Open Innovation for the Future of Management

Published Dec-29-10

The new M-Prize competition to encourage management innovation and organizational change.

Management Innovation Exchange (MIX), United States

The Story:

Open Innovation for the Future of Management The fruits of open innovation are not only product-based as an OI strategy can be applied to reinventing how companies are organized to make them more streamline and effective.

Launched in 2010 the HCL MBA M-Prize is an open innovation management contest to reinvent management for the 21st century to help companies become more inspiring, flexible, innovative and adaptable.

Companies Living in the Past

Many organizations the world over are living in the past, relics of some bygone era, where authoritarian regimes and executive structures are more geared to the short term and rewarding the powerful few rather than engaging with and inspiring innovative individuals and/or communities. All of which engenders a culture of fear and mistrust, the very antitheses of a dynamic and forward-thinking company.

M-Prize Challenge

To encourage management innovation the M-prize web-based open innovation project was designed around three challenges: redefining the work of leadership, increasing trust, and taking the work out of work. The contest organizers were looking for the boldest most creative visions to transform management systems, organizational structures and behaviors.

One of the aims of this open innovation contest is to share radical ideas that are already creating change by bringing them to the attention of a wider audience. Three winning ideas were selected in November 2010 and all offer valuable insights to management innovators.

One of those winning projects was a local council initiative from the UK that streamlined how it reacted to repairs to council houses.

The Public Gets what the Public Wants

More than 40,000 people in Portsmouth rely on council or social housing and as the majority of the houses are more than 50 years old repairs to bathrooms, kitchens, windows and doors are continuous.

The UK government sets targets that emergency repairs have to be carried out within 24 hours, but Owen Buckwell, Portsmouth Council’s head of housing knew that categorizing jobs into ‘emergency’ and ‘non emergency’ to meet government targets led to incomplete repairs, poor quality work and missed appointments.

For example, a tenant might have a broken toilet, which could be classed as an emergency but if there is another functioning toilet in the house it might suit the tenant if repairs are carried out in a few days time rather than immediately.

Buckwell and management consultant John Seddon designed a system with the guiding principle of “carrying out the right repair at the right time” for tenants.
This feat was accomplished by moving away from a paper-based system that provided plumbers, electricians etc with a daily print-out of jobs to a sophisticated visual system that matches customer demands (what they want and when they want it) with the supply of trades people.

Now tenants are able to call up for a service and schedule the exact time they want a tradesperson to turn up (no half-day window or two-hour window) to carry out a repair.

Large screens at headquarters display the status of current jobs and when a trades person becomes free they are given their next job; all of which has helped to avoid bottlenecks and delays.


The approach was an immediate hit with tenants as the proportion of jobs that were fixed rose and the volume of complaints dropped.

Staff also engaged with the new regime and the work ethos was completely transformed - from one that was driven by government targets with employees feeling like they were ‘firefighting’ all the time to an environment where people are encouraged to use their imagination and initiative.

More Chances to Win

The M-prize open innovation contest has highlighted numerous creative approaches to management and is ongoing.

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