Replying to "Hate" Mail

Monday, 26 March 2012 06:30
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Last week's newsletter, "Why I Hate Open Innovation Web Portals" generated more responses than any prior one. Curious to learn some of the comments? Read on, dear friends...

Responding to "Hate" Mail

n last week's newsletter, "Why I Hate Open Innovation Web Portals", I asserted that while they enable companies to efficiently manage high volumes of external inputs, they don't routinely promote satisfying user experiences. I received quite a few responses from readers about this topic and was heartened to learn that most of them agreed with my sentiments.

Phil Stern and Emma Hughes of (Unilever's new portal manager) responded to my concern that their involvement might increase separation between external submitters and corporate solution champions. They explained that they would "know the right personnel who have the need and can be effective in championing the idea and moving (it) forward ". They further asserted that they would "clearly and non-confidentially articulate (a solution's benefits) - improving the chances of success once inside the organization." I appreciate their comments and accept that their contributions should represent value-added for Unilever.

Of course, for meaningfully improved outcomes it is necessary to do more than properly tee up opportunities for review. Internal designees must also proactively assess them and champion qualified opportunities. In my experiences across a wide variety of corporations, I have seen considerable variation in this role. Some of my contacts are exceptional. Others...not so much. I feel this is an area where companies should work to ensure that submissions are diligently and consistently managed.

Beyond this, can companies do even more to increase external outreach productivity? In addition to seeking to discourage the deluge of technically unqualified submissions that they often receive, I feel that companies should also strive to learn about select provider's capabilities, even if they reject their submission. For example, a firm's medical device submission would not likely reveal their strengths in skillfully translating patents to functioning product prototypes. Might this be a valuable capability for the portal's sponsor.

I have numerous additional thoughts to share about this topic, as it's one with which I have considerable experience and also feel strongly about. What are your thoughts? I'd love to read them!


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