Knock Out Internal In-Fighting

Monday, 28 October 2013 06:30
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I define innovation as the intersection of: opportunity (should do this), feasibility (can do this) and capability (will do this). Many companies struggle with feasibility more than they should, especially when open innovation is a key consideration.

Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends.

Knock Out Internal In-Fighting

There is considerable internal corporate hand wringing over decisions as to whether or not to apply external technology inputs (i.e. feasibility). Companies have become more comfortable with the practice of scouting and evaluating external solutions, but there is often a lot of internal conflict regarding the adoption of specific external solutions. Why is this? Because a combination of internal political factors usually come into play.

Whether it's due to risk aversion, Not Invented Here, or Not Found By Us, scouted solutions always seem to inspire contentious internal debates. I understand why companies often assign their product developers to evaluate externally sourced technologies. After all, they are the people most familiar with the area of study and therefore are well qualified to assess solution options. However, these individuals are often very territorial in this role. They can be either hypercritical to external solutions in general (resulting in their disqualification), or they may give preferential consideration to solutions that they themselves have scouted or identified, causing dissent among other internal parties whose responsibilities also include tech scouting.

The seemingly least internally conflicted open innovation initiatives are those where the company has decided to go outside for technology and where there aren't competing internal resources...whether for scouting or for development. Within CPG companies, this has tended to include items like mechanical devices, as embodied by cosmetic facial scrubbers (e.g. Neutrogena) or appliances such as the type marketed by P&G's Swiffer, Febreze and Olay brands. As there are a limited number of such opportunities, real progress in open innovation will lag until internal resistance to it and conflicts inspired by it, fade over time.

Fortunately, there are some effective and proven strategies that can be employed to reduce the incidence of internal in-fighting. Give me a call, if you'd like to discuss.

Could your open innovation team benefit from coaching tips to help improve its internal selling effectiveness? Consider giving me a call at 614 937-2408.


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