Open Innovation From A Practitioner's Perspective

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More on Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

As an update to an earlier post on this same topic, I want to focus on several ideas to properly manage IPR in an open innovation/crowdsourcing context.

First, I’ll repeat what I think it important for everyone to understand: not every single challenge or idea, whether it comes from R&D or marketing or product development, is a candidate for an open innovation/crowdsourcing approach. This is where every organization needs to start – with a determination of what is and is not fair game to share externally. In my experience I have seen that even after a company sets aside those challenges or projects that are considered too sensitive to share externally, there is a still a lot of information to work with.

Secondly, and really the focus of this post, is to consider a critical skill everyone needs to develop to be successful: framing the question properly. Too often I’ve seen companies focus on problem-solving and not problem-framing. I’ve been told by many senior managers that a properly framed question can be 70-80% of the work in getting the answer they are looking for.

How can questions be framed properly:

* make sure to breakdown the question into smaller ‘pieces’; this allows for a more focused effort on the part of potential soution providers and it also helps mask the problem (a few pixels won’t give you the whole picture)

* remove all industry or corporate jargon (helps to hide the potential application or market opportunity)

* clearly define solution criteria (this helps somewhat in managing confidentiality but also it’s jsut a good practice in general)

In summary, spend more time thinking about the real problem you are trying to solve and not only will you improve your chances of success but you will also improve your control of what information you disclose (and the risk associated with that disclosure).

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