There are a number of reasons why it’s smart to involve internal intellectual resources with your open innovation efforts.
Here are three of them:
1) All things being equal a company with engaged employees outperforms those with disengaged workers. What’s more, disengaged employees can do very real harm to a business. According to a 2010 Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report 84% of survey respondents said that “disengaged employees” are one of the three biggest threats facing their business.
2) If a company wants to embrace open innovation it can experiment internally and create the right culture and practices (and learn from any mistakes) before going outside. A smaller number of employees who think ‘outside of the box’ can be identified to work on a few problems/issues/challenges to hopefully demonstrate some small wins.
The ‘not invented here’ syndrome is one of the biggest barriers to effective implementation of open innovation, and working with employees early on can help to bring about the evolution in thinking and practices that is required.
3) By engaging employees and asking for their input and ideas you are telling them that they are valued and have important roles to play in your present and future. Involvement spurs motivation which not only fosters loyalty to the organization but can also lead to better work and ideas. Leave your employees on the sidelines and they’re going to wonder why you’re still employing them.
The Way Forward
Yes, open innovation is a cost-effective way to innovate better and faster, but engage the crowd inside as well as the crowd outside.