In a recent TED talk, Lucia Chierchia, Head of Open Innovation at Electrolux gave some fascinating insights into how the multinational appliance manufacturer garners ideas from innovators all over the world.
About four years ago, Chierchia moved from her position as R&D manager to become head of an internal “start-up” called Electrolux Open Innovation.
During her talk, she spoke about the different ways her company looks for external solutions and some of the issues they encountered when engaging with open innovation.
“There is big value when it comes to innovations from outside our company,” Chierchia said. “And we needed to find a way to capture this value and build something new together with smart, external people.”
Problems and Solutions
One of the problems was not being able to adequately describe their needs, “targeted challenges didn’t always work,” she said. It was a steep learning curve. To capture the best ideas, the company decided to show inventors their strategic areas to inspire their thoughts and set their creative juices flowing.
Today, Electrolux calls them ‘Inspire Challenges’. The ideas came flooding in, which is often a source of pain for companies engaged in these kinds of OI approaches. Many of the submissions can be of low quality, and a lot of resources are expended to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Chierchia pointed out that they received many good submissions that created new value for consumers and the company itself. These were not just for products, but also for processes.
During her talk she presented several Electrolux open innovation success stories, including one of a company that approached the multinational offering a system to automatically calibrate assembly lines. They didn’t want any money, but were looking for partners to help them test their solution and share risks. Today, that company is a trusted supplier.
To watch the 10-minute talk, click on the video below: