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Experiential Open Innovation and Co-Creation

Experiential Open Innovation and Co-Creation

Open innovation or collaborative innovation refers to the current trend where project development involves the participation of multiple users. The scale of projects undertaken through open innovation requires the input of multiple participants, where an individual user is limited in their impact to the project as a whole. Open innovation thus primarily employs the concept of collaboration among users in developing sustainable solutions applicable in their environment. It is imperative that a reliable means of communication exist among the users in facilitating the smooth exchange of ideas within the collaborating group. The proliferation of communication media among communities, especially in the 21st century sets the open innovation phenomenon as a current development, given access to reliable communication platforms is the main driver of success. Further, the social nature of modern business practice assigns massive power to the customers, in determining the needs, and subsequently, the products desired in the market. Community relations, corporate philanthropy, as well as corporate social responsibility, represent a major effort where the corporate sector inculcates collaboration in satisfying secondary needs. Open innovation undoubtedly presents a golden generation where accelerated progress is possible through crowdsourcing, as well as brainstorming. Many global challenges are replicable among populations, and their ideal solutions emanate from collaboration on the experiences of different local shareholders. Understanding the complexities and nuances of open innovation is thus critical in improving efficiency and utility of open innovation programs for practical application. This report reflects on the experience of participation in an open innovation platform towards the goal of environmental sustainability.

Background

For the purposes of making this report, I engaged with the OpenIdeo open innovation platform, where users share knowledge on various subjects targeting the improvement of community welfare. The climate innovator platform, for instance, encourages innovations that help the planet in sustainability. The wide scale of global climate challenges presents open innovation as the perfect means of pooling both ideas and resources necessary for the planet. Interaction with the climate innovator series offers insight on the how participants share insights on the implementation of proposed interventions, as well as crowdsourcing funding from prospective partners. I found the OpenIdeo process to be fair and effective in choosing projects with the potential for the highest impact once implemented as proposed. Among many participating entrants, the climate innovator stories shortlisted four finalists whose environmental innovations provided the most feasible and effective solutions. This report tracks the interaction of the four final submissions with effect on their contribution to climate innovation knowledge, as well as their ability to source resources to actualize the pilot project.

Critique of the open innovation process through my personal experience

Identified weaknesses in the OpenIdeo innovation platform

While OpenIdeo presents a useful tool in sharing innovations, it did not match up in providing practical solutions to environment problems. While the ideas presented by the participants are great if implemented, the contributors receive minimal additions to their original conceptions. While the platform is intended for open innovation, it serves more as a tool for crowdsourcing ideas, where the winning ideas are published on their website for open access and replication around the globe. While providing these innovations to the public unrestricted, the contributors seldom receive meaningful additions in terms of project upgrade or even funding. Appendix 1 represents feedback generated by the Bee Downtown project, one of the shortlisted four projects, where while the respondents express enthusiasm for the project, there is a visible absence of solid support in terms of funding or improvement of the idea. While OpenIdeo targets to be a gateway between innovations and their implementation, it under delivers in acquiring resources for implementation of winning ideas. The number of active participants in the platform fails to constitute a community with the potential to collaborate on the implementation of big projects.

Strengths and Merits of Open Innovation

Despite the minor misgivings on the climate innovator series on OpenIdeo, participation in the process enlightened me on the many benefits that stand to be gained from optimal application and utilization of the tool. Given the communal nature that the environment affects us, providing solutions, as well as generating and consuming knowledge on sustainable ways of its exploitation is the only way for a sustainable future. With the climate innovator series, the OpenIdeo platform offers an avenue for the exchange of ideas and resources in modeling sustainable communities. Innovation relates to the creation of value by the innovator, which is then passed on to the consumer, where value can either be fulfilling a need, improving quality of an existing product or service, or by reducing the cost of producing a product or service (Melville, 2010). The OpenIdeo climate innovator stories series is an example of innovation in use in improving the quality of the environment. The final four ideas are chosen on their merit to contribute positively to the ecosystem, while at the same time benefitting the residents in whose communities the projects are implemented. CaribShare, one of the projects I interacted with, engages in the production of renewable fuel from organic waste provided by hotels and small subsistence farmers in Jamaica, where partners receive cash for waste provided (OpenIdeo & Carol, 2016). Bees Downtown provides and maintains beehives on rooftops, RE-volv crowdfunds solar projects while Tree Adoption Uganda provides rural youth with business capital for their efforts in tree planting and conservation.

Open innovation enables the formation of community-oriented businesses, with the example of CaribShare, where the profits are plowed back into the community to alleviate poverty. Social enterprises have worked to improve livelihoods in poverty-stricken areas in the world, where the business provides an essential service to people who would have otherwise been unable to afford. A similar enterprise has met with success, where slum residents in Kenya are provided with toilet services, while the effluent is used in the production of biogas (Appendix 2). Dissemination of information on the formation of such enterprises stimulates interest in other users who identify similar opportunity in the community. Through innovation platforms, collaborations develop where innovators share ideas on similar projects.

Reflection and discussion

In the modern day of fast-paced change, businesses need to improve their efficiency both in the production of goods and services, as well as in their distribution. A firm should seek to implement strategies that seek to change the dynamics of the market, while at the same time seeking improved understanding of the competition. Successful products share features such as cost-effectiveness and innovational. The final climate innovator projects were chosen as the OpenIdeo finalist all exhibit both qualities of innovation and cost effectiveness in the environmental solutions each offers. CaribShare and RE-volv target alternative ways of providing energy, effectively moving from fossil fuels, responsible for a large part of the current environmental challenges. Bee downtown and Adopt a Tree Uganda target improvement of the natural environment, where bees help in pollination and food security, while trees serve a host of purposes including acting as a carbon sink atmospheric carbon. While these causes are great and deserve the attention, support, and dedication from environmentally conscious people, OpenIdeo could do much more in publicizing the projects for replication in other places.

The essence of open innovation relates to the participation of various contributors to a common project, where communication is a key factor in facilitating cooperation. Each open innovation platform should invest in its media capacity where contributors liaise to come up with solutions. Further, the system should possess the capability to engage with targeted users and sponsors, in line with the maximizing of the potential impact of the innovation.

Conclusion

Open innovation is an undoubted source of stellar ideas, which when implemented lead to a change in the consumption habits people engage. When shared through the media, both mainstream and social, the impact that these innovations can have multiplies by the number of people who receive and adopt the innovations. The idea of crowdfunding is driven by open innovation, where implementers seek partners to fund their idea. The success of these initiatives is driven by modern communication platforms such as internet-mediated registries. When properly marketed to the community, open innovation has the potential to change the livelihoods of many impoverished people, where freely sourced ideas are implemented in the local situation for local benefits. Pooling of resources towards worthy causes is also another benefit accruing from open innovation, doing possible projects whose fruition would have been impossible.

References

Melville, N. P., 2010. Information Systems Innovation for Environmental Sustainability. Mis Quarterly, 34(1), pp. 1-21.

OpenIdeo & Batte, C., 2016. Climate Innovator Stories: Join us in sharing powerful stories that highlight people and projects innovating for the planet; Tree Adoption Uganda. [Online]
Available at: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/climate-stories/impact/tree-adoption-uganda-tau/comments#!comments-section
[Accessed 1 May 2016].

OpenIdeo & Carol, 2016. Climate Innovator Stories: Join us in sharing powerful stories that highlight people and projects innovating for the planet: CaribShare Biogas. [Online]
Available at: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/climate-stories/impact/caribshare-biogas/comments#!comments-section

OpenIdeo & Karelas, A., 2016. Climate Innovator Stories: Join us in sharing powerful stories that highlight people and projects innovating for the planet; Andreas Karelas. [Online]
Available at: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/climate-stories/impact/re-volv/comments#!comments-section
[Accessed 1 May 2016].

OpenIdeo, L. K. B., 2016. Climate Innovator Stories: Join us in sharing powerful stories that highlight people and projects innovating for the planet; Bee Downtown. [Online]
Available at: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/climate-stories/impact/bee-downtown/comments#!comments-section
[Accessed 1 may 2016].

Ragauskas, A.J., Williams, C.K., Davison, B.H., Britovsek, G., Cairney, J., Eckert, C.A., Frederick, W.J., Hallett, J.P., Leak, D.J., Liotta, C.L. and Mielenz, J.R., 2006. The Path Forward for Biofuels and Biomaterials, Science, 311(5760), pp.484-489

Schaffers, H., Komninos, N., Pallot, M., Trousse, B., Nilsson, M. and Oliveira, A., 2011, Smart Cities and the Future Internet: Towards Cooperation Frameworks for Open Innovation, Future internet assembly6656(31), pp.431-446.

Van Kleef, J.A.G. and Roome, N.J., 2007. Developing Capabilities and Competence for Sustainable Business Management as Innovation a Research Agenda, Journal of cleaner production15(1), pp.38-51.

Appendices

Appendix 1

Heatherlee Nguyen (Open IDEO Twin Cities)

07:25, May 28, 2016

🙂
I’ll reach out via email, excellent work! 

Leigh-Kathryn, this is an incredible story, congratulations on launching Bee Downtown!! Thanks for caring so much, I do think lots of people care but don’t necessarily know what they can do. This is a great way for those people to invest in something that helps all of us. Bees are amazing and I can’t wait to be a beekeeper! How do I get this downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul? We’d love to help share your story and grow your business.

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Trevor z Hallstein

12:23, Mar 07, 2016

Great project and I look forward to seeing how to support you on this. Trevor

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06:00, Feb 11, 2016

I’m more of an operations person than a brand person, so I can’t help too much at this stage, but if you ever want to chat about expansion plans let me know!
Love this concept and I think you’ve told your story beautifully on the website! One thing I struggled with a bit was figuring out what products and services you sell — I think companies pay to have hives on their rooftops, but I’m not sure? And, do you sell honey actively somewhere? I do see that there’s some revenue from tours. Maybe there’s a way to organize the website a bit to communicate those elements. If you had a «products and services» bucket it might be a good place for your nonprofit story to go as well. 

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Appendix 2

By: NameBy: Name 1

Figure 1 Biocentres in Kibera have collected 60,000kg of poo, turning it into biogas Photograph: Practical Action