Environment of Trust for Open Innovation

Henrik Stamm Kristensen

It is still common to find companies that feel reluctant about sharing their technological advances. However, the world is experiencing a major change that affects all systems. The changes occurring are so fast that to be competitive you need to collaborate, share knowledge, and new perspectives and solutions. One of the key issues when implementing open innovation projects or any kind of collaboration is trust. You need to build safe and favorable to ideas environments that enable businesses take greater risks to innovate jointly.

Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why has been very useful for me. I find it very interesting and I think that some of the leadership roles that defined in relation to building relationships of trust within the enterprise can also be applied to open innovation ecosystems. Here, like within an organization, it is necessary to create spaces of trust between companies to facilitate collaboration and innovation.

For building a space of collaboration to innovate, there are necessary issues, mentioned in the book, such as:

A challenge to move around. “Great companies give their people a purpose or a challenge around which to develop ideas rather than simply instruct them”, says Simon Sinek referring to Apple, a company whose major innovations brought new categories to the market, namely new products away from the world of computers. “Innovation was born out of the struggle” with competitors, also reminds this author. Collaboration between different companies, in different fields, can lead to completely disruptive new categories when pursuing a common goal, when they are driven by the same “why”.

The trust to take risk. “We succeed as a species because our ability to form cultures”, explains Sinek. Models such as open innovation make it possible to build networks of collaboration and innovation, and these networks generate the necessary trust and support between all the stakeholders to take risks. In relation to a company’s worker, Sinek follows: “The more he trusts the quality of the net, the more he will take personal risks to make his act better”.

Focusing on value. Trust comes with a sense of value. “You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs”. Companies who share values can focus on a common objective and work from mutual confidence, improving their chances of success.

Inspiration vs motivation. A common culture is what moves individuals within an organization from motivation to inspiration. “Only when individuals can trust the culture or organization will they take personal risks”, says Sinek. According to his paradigm, this makes individuals be self-motivated, regardless of the consequences for the organization. And that is also necessary when companies work together. Each individual in each organization needs to believe that all they are working for something bigger than their organizations.

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