Archive for the 'open innovation' Category

Collaboration in Innovation Competitions

Point: Innovation tournaments can be run either competitively or collaboratively, with each approach yielding better results for different purposes.

Story: In his second book, Best Practices are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out-Innovate the Competition, (named the 2011 best book on innovation by CEORead) innovation speaker Stephen Shapiro offers 40 tips on how to innovate efficiently.  His tip #11, for example, tackles the topic of innovation competitions and tournaments. The tip focuses on what role, if any, collaboration should play in these bounty-driven events.

Innovation tournaments can be run either competitively or collaboratively, Shapiro says.  In a competitive tournament, such as ones run by Cisco and LG Electronics, no participant can see rivals’ submissions.  In a collaborative tournament, such as GE’s Eco-Imagination challenges, anyone can see a submission and comment on or vote on the entry. The Netflix Prize and X Prize use a hybrid version, running the tournaments as competitions for prizes but allowing for collaboration within each submission.

Which approach generates the best solutions? Collaborative tournaments work best in areas where problems require “cumulative knowledge” or “building on best practices,” Shapiro says, citing research by Kevin Boudreau and Karim Kakhani in the Sloan Management Review. The collaborative approach lets players build on to each other ideas and create more refined ideas based on feedback from other participants.

Competition, in contrast, is most effective when the problem requires broad experimentation with an emphasis on truly new ideas rather than refined ideas  The competitive aspect means that many different ideas are pursued simultaneously. Whereas collaboration enjoys the benefits of players influencing each other, competition enjoys the benefits of players being independent of each other, thereby avoiding problems like groupthink, which might artificially narrow the ideas along the basis of the first idea suggested.  In some cases, a hybrid approach will use competition in phase one of the tournament to gather a lot of ideas and then use collaboration during a second phase to flesh out and refine the most promising ideas.

Action

  • Hold an innovation tournament to access the innovative energies of suppliers, customers, and smart people from around the world.
  • Use a collaborative tournament if you need ideas that are cumulatively built and more carefully refined by the players.
  • Use a competitive tournament if you want a wider range of “left-field” ideas and plan to do your own refinement or hold a two-stage contest in which the second stage refines the ideas of the first.

4 Comments »Creativity, How-to, Innovation, open innovation, Strategy

Mayo Clinic’s Collaborative Innovation Process

Point: Collaboration between doctors, patients, designers and lab technicians brings healthcare delivery breakthroughs.

Story: The inspiring origins of the Mayo Clinic illustrate the timelessness of collaborative innovation. Back in the 1880s, two brothers, Will and Charles Mayo, founded the clinic with their father, Dr. William Worrall Mayo, and introduced the concept of a group practice.  The Mayos sought medical breakthroughs by bringing together doctors, laboratory experts, and business people. As the younger Will Mayo said, “In order that the sick may have the benefit of advancing knowledge, a union of forces is necessary.”

Today, we have the fruits of many medical breakthroughs but need better ways to deliver the breakthroughs in efficient and effective ways.   Many chronic diseases, like diabetes, can be treated but depend on more than just a one-shot procedure in a doctor’s office or hospital.  For these conditions, healthcare delivery requires education and engagement between doctors and patients.  The quest for new breakthroughs in healthcare delivery calls for a new round of collaborative innovation, embodied by the Mayo Clinic’s SPARC unit.

The Mayo Clinic uses SPARC to develop new services for patients.  SPARC stands for See, Plan, Act, Refine, Communicate.  Mayo believes in a fast prototyping approach: a crossfunctional team of doctors, industrial designers, patient education experts, facilities people and financial analysts work together to create new ideas and test them in the “Hub.” The collaboration includes some of the usual healthcare and research leaders, like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, University of Minnesota, MIT, Yale, and GE Healthcare.  But it also attracts collaborators from industry, such as IDEO, Best Buy, Steelcase, Microsoft, and Cisco.

The Hub creates reconfigurable prototypes of patient check-in counters and examination rooms. The team that develops a new service can observe the prototypes in action through glass and via video.  “We take research out of the laboratory and translate it in a very quick and meaningful way right to the patient’s bedside,” said Dr. Glen Forbes, CEO of Mayo’s Rochester, MN campus. “That takes a lot of collaboration, because you’re crossing cultures and you’re often times crossing a lot of internal organization structures and silos.”

Most crucially, the Mayo Clinic engages patients to accelerate innovation.  “Our patients have a long history of participating in our research and education endeavors,” says Barbara Spurrier, Administrative Director, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.  The Mayo uses ethnographic techniques to analyze the quality of doctor-patient interactions, survey patients for their impressions, and talk to patient’s families.  Human-centered design thinking ensures that the innovations aren’t just technically correct, they deliver higher quality of life for patients.

Action:

  • Find a gap between technology and society, such as the gap between the capabilities of a technology (e.g., a medical treatment) and the delivery of that technology (e.g., a patient’s compliance)
  • Recruit collaborators from both the technology side and the people side to bridge the gap
  • Create tangible and testable examples of innovations through visualization, modeling and rapid prototyping
  • Use both hard science and soft science methods to gain both objective and subjective feedback for further innovations

For more information:

Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation Partnerships

Leonard Berry and Kent Seltman, Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic: Inside One of the World’s Most Admired Service Organizations, 2008

Evan Rosen, The Culture of Collaboration: Maximizing the Time, Talent and Tools to Create Value in the Global Economy, 2009

Glenn S. Forbes, M.D.

Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota partnership

No Comments »Case study, CEO, How-to, Innovation, open innovation, Strategy

Frugal Innovation at NASA

Point:  Budget constraints demand frugal innovation.

Story:  In 2005, NASA’s Constellation program – tasked with designing a way to get humans to the moon and eventually to Mars – suffered a 45% reduction in R&D budgets during the process of getting Constellation running.   “We knew those resources weren’t coming back,” said Jeff Davis, Director of the Space Life Sciences Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “We thought to ourselves, we can’t get this done just doing 45% less. We need to approach this whole program in a new way.”

Davis’ team looked for new ways to work and began exploring alliances and external innovation platforms. The team hit upon the idea of using open innovation challenges at about the same time that President Obama’s Open Government Initiative encouraged public participation and the Office of Management and Budget issued guidelines on using prizes to spur public participation to solve innovation challenges.

Using the InnoCentive platform, Davis’ team issued an open innovation challenge entitled, “Data Driven Forecasting of Solar Events,” seeking solutions for how to predict particle storms that would pose a hazard to the Constellation spacecraft above the earth’s atmosphere. An engineer from rural New Hampshire provided the winning solution. White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra described the results:

“I share with you the results of NASA’s early experience with Innocentive’s scientific expert network platform, a platform of 200,000 scientists, where NASA said it would pose a few difficult scientific challenges.  One of the challenges was, ‘how can we forecast solar activity to better predict when to release our rockets into space?’” This was a vexing problem that NASA had been grappling with for more than 30 years.  By putting the challenge out to the public, a semi-retired radio frequency engineer living in rural New Hampshire had the opportunity to share his idea on how to address the problem. [All the engineer needed] was a simple Internet connection.  No complicated RFP, the need for a lobbyist, some convoluted process – just a smart person in our country who could help solve a difficult scientific challenge and was paid a modest $30,000 for that insight.”

Action:

  • Consider open innovation methods such as external challenges as a cost-efficient way to spur innovation.
  • Subdivide large R&D efforts into smaller R&D challenges that members of an open innovation crowd are more likely to be able to address
  • Use a pre-existing platform to quickly reach a critical mass of solvers

Sources:
Open Innovation Marketplace, by Alpheus Bingham and Dwayne Spradlin, Financial Times Press, 2011.

Aneesh Chopra, “Rethinking Government” address to the Personal Democracy Forum 2010, posted June 12, 2010

NASA Innovation Pavilion on InnoCentive.com

2 Comments »Case study, How-to, Innovation, open innovation, R&D, Strategy

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