Being one of the key assets to invigorate creativity and sustain the destination competitive advantage, it is necessary to design a set of strategies that engage stakeholders in contributing and leveraging the most of their intelligence. The Open Innovation platform intends to unlock their creativity – first and foremost the organization’s employees, followed by its closer partners, and beyond. One of the key factors to make Open Innovation work is to constantly connect with external networks, which are more likely to bring in new ideas than creativity alone. Further, encouraging the network members to travel, research and learn about other destinations should nurture the innovation ecosystem with inspiring ideas.

Most productive innovation networks are characterized by a decentralized structure with many leaders who have collaborative mindsets. Such decentralization not only unlocks initiative and creativity, but also fosters further interaction and collaboration amongst the network members. In order to generate trust among innovators, non-profit innovation challenges should be especially promoted (as long as collaboration between innovators can be more easily orchestrated and there are no Intellectual Property issues to generate conflict). As long as trust is built, groups for rewarded innovation challenges may also be created.

When developing the Open Innovation ecosystem there are four critical steps to follow from the design phase, to the execution and management of the network:

Connecting and organising people:

  • Research networks to identify potential contributors. Create a database with their skills, experience, education, achievements, professional interests, open mindset, associated networks, and personal remarks regarding their concerns, values and aspirations.
  • Combine different kinds of innovators. Idea generators, researchers, experts, and producers are the main profiles. Consider also different profiles in terms of skills, seniority and field of expertise, and mix people from different cultural, educational and industry backgrounds.
  • Identify potential leaders. As 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 experts should have collaborative mindsets and empowering leadership styles.

Setting goals and engaging members:

  • Plan how to establish trust among network members and engage them quickly. Trust is critical to foster collaboration and thus achieve relevant innovation goals. A system that gives visibility to all contributions carried out in collaboration is the main way to do it.
  • Set innovation goals and metrics to track results. Consider all kinds of desired outputs, set innovation goals and formulate specific, measurable and time-bounded objectives. Then, design a set of metrics to monitor the project’s results.
  • Market contribution as an opportunity to showcase their skills, connect with like-minded professionals, build reputation within their professional community, get rewards, achieve visible results that may bring them more professional credit, etc.

Supporting and facilitating:

  • Organize a kick-off Open challenge. It is necessary to showcase how the system works and engage contributors with an initial success story in which they can be rewarded. Listen to their reviews and suggestions, and let them know how useful their contribution has been.
  • Organize training workshops. Training potential contributors in co-creation, marketing, storytelling, leadership and operation of the Open Innovation system is crucial for them to feel empowered and bring in good contributions.
  • Identify needed infrastructure and support. It is necessary to provide all the tools for the members to facilitate their collaboration and contribution. Beyond the initial plans, it is necessary to ask them whether they have any difficulties to identify extra needs for support.

Managing and tracking:

  • Determine accountabilities and timing. It is important to track and assess performance and this may be done by setting a calendar of milestones with clear and measurable objectives and metrics. Accountabilities are necessary to let everyone know what to focus on.
  • Reorient strategy and review accountabilities. Decide who takes new responsibilities and who leaves responsibilities, according to the results achieved and by measuring the evolution of everyone’s workload to ensure balance and adequate assignments.
  • Design reward system. Research 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.

This article is from the White Paper “Envisioning Open Innovation in Destinations”, available for download in

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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