The development of a network of professional contributors should entail the following steps:
- Set innovation goals and metrics to track results. Considering all kinds of desired outputs, set innovation goals and objectives in accordance with the executive board and innovation advisors. Formulate specific, measurable and time-bounded objectives, and prioritize them to build the innovation system according to the real needs and guide the innovation efforts. Then, design a set of metrics to monitor the project’s results.
- Draft a comprehensive list of the needed profiles encompassing researchers, idea generators, producers and experts in all fields, as long as innovation is to be carried out by groups including these four contributor profiles. Some of them may be Strategy consultants, IT consultants, environmental experts, without disregarding some professionals for content creation such as writers, graphic designers, photographers and audiovisual developers.
- Research networks and identify potential contributors. Get to know them well to create a database including their skills, experience, education, achievements, professional interests, associated network, and personal remarks regarding their concerns, values and aspirations. Invite them to a business oriented presentation explaining the goals and operation of the Open Innovation System, also to sense their interest and vision.
- Identify potential leaders. As the open innovation has to work as a decentralized system with many leaders, it is necessary to have one in each field of expertise at the very least. These should have collaborative mindsets and empowering leadership style to further engage other contributors. Further, there should be some key influencers and destination executives championing the open innovation development to involve new contributors.
- Market contribution as an opportunity to showcase their skills, connect with like-minded professionals, build reputation within their professional community, get rewards according to their contribution, achieve visible results that may bring them more professional credit, etc. Collaborate with professional associations to search for contributors and to market open innovation contribution as a professional opportunity.
- Design reward system. Research on the market fees for each type of contributor to have a comprehensive fee list considering field of expertise, experience, achievements, proven skills, and other relevant variables. As long as innovation challenges are to be driven by collaboration among contributors, there has to be a way to assess the value of each contribution, as the final result may be a mix of ideas coming from different innovators.
- Organize a kick-off workshop and open challenge to showcase how the system works. Pose an easy challenge in which most contributors are likely to be rewarded. An initial success story is crucial to motivate contributors in engaging further. Listen to their opinions, reviews and suggestions for improvement. Thank them for their feedback and let them know how useful it has been to streamline the system.
Beyond these initial steps, there are other key success factors that should not be disregarded:
- Building a culture of trust, innovation and collaboration
- Searching and connecting with external innovation networks to cooperate
- Encouraging contributors to travel to bring in new ideas from other destinations
- Organize workshops to train in co-creation, marketing, leadership and other subjects
- Identify needed infrastructure to facilitate and enhance collaborative innovation
Keep in mind as an innovation mantra that “those that will succeed are the ones that embrace creativity and experiment with different ways of reaching and engaging their customers”.
Do you think of other necessary tips or key success factors?