A Modeling System for Toddler Training Pants

Published Feb-17-10

An innovative modeling system for toddler training pants designed by a former aerospace engineer.

A Consumer Products Company

The Story:

A Modeling System for Toddler Training Pants Open innovation has gained importance in recent years as companies from multiple industries realize they could end up as dead as a dodo if they ignore leveraging the expertise of external sources to accelerate their innovation. It can be summed up in a neat phrase by Bill Joy, the cofounder of Sun Microsystems: “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else”.

In other words in any sphere of activity that an organization undertakes, the relevant knowledge will reside outside its boundaries. The task then becomes how to find it. The beauty of open innovation via a knowledge broker is that it connects the knowledge seeker with the solution.

New Way of Doing Business

This relatively new way of doing business is helping organizations bring new products to the marketplace in shorter timescales as well helping them tackle some of their most complicated problems.

A consumer products company that markets diapers was developing a new kind of material for training pants for toddlers. To ensure that their testing was rigorous they needed to be able to accurately model the typical shapes of young boys and girls. But no matter how many times they tried that just couldn’t figure out a modeling system, so the company approached YourEncore to see if it could find someone with a solution.

Experts at Your Fingertips

The online open innovation broker tapped into its network of retired engineers and scientists and found a former Boeing engineer who is an expert in 3-D modeling. He was able to help the Baby Care division of this company apply virtual modeling concepts and techniques to the design and prototyping of their diapers. The net result was that the consumer products company was able to bring their product to market about a year ahead of schedule.

Why Companies Embrace Open Innovation

There are a number of factors driving companies toward adopting open innovation strategies not least of which is the financial downturn that has been laying waste to the planet. Organizations large and small have to cut costs and one of the first causalities is staffing. But even though core R&D staff members are jettisoned a company still needs a continuous stream of innovation if it is to survive and thrive.

In addition, as the consumer products company discovered, open innovation is a way of increasing R&D capability. By forming a relationship with a knowledge broker it was given access to a global resource of scientists and engineers. Such a network offers diversity of thought and lateral thinking which can be brought to bear on a problem.

For solution seekers open innovation is a win-win situation as they will only pay for success, not failure and wrong turns. They do not have to search for someone to solve a problem; they will pick the right solution out of a number potential answers submitted by solvers.

Strategic Necessity

Open innovation is much more than a business concept. Many companies around the world are discovering that it is now a strategic necessity.

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