Michael Fruhling's Blog

A bunch of stuff about innovation…

End to End External Innovation

Posted by mdf4u on December 22, 2009

Many companies are eager to engage in external innovation.  They can mistakenly begin by opening the door for external submissions without first having a defined end-to-end process to manage the inbound flow.   While many companies already have in place a stage gate process to manage new product opportunities grown organically within a company, fewer have defined processes for accomodating candidates that may already be in a more advanced state of development without the customary standards and approvals that organizations apply.  Without having protocols for managing these “exceptions”, there’s bound to be confusion.

Another common challenge exists for companies knowing how to address unplanned opportunities, when these arise.  For instance, when Marketing and R&D are aligned on technical needs to support an approved product and marketing strategy, work flow is pretty predictable.  However, when an intriguing new opportunity arises for which no business case had been devised, many companies are ill equipped to accomodate this newness.  Besides the process gaps, some NIH mentality can creep in.   An internal advocate may not emerge, for instance.

Net, companies that plan to be open for business in the field of external innovation need to thoughtfully formulate processes and plans to accomodate the different scenarios that they are likely to face when they go “lights on”…before they actually do.

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