Innovation coming at the edges

Henrik Stamm Kristensen

It is increasingly common that innovation occurs at the edges or from the bottom to top, and not only in the heart of major companies or important R&D Centers. The lowering of the high technology and the emergence of new forms of organization of collective talent made it possible. The result are start-ups, but also crowdsourcing and open innovation platforms. Both models have common factors such as the engagement of innovators, their passion or their desire to create value by finding solutions to problems that really matter for a group of people or an entire community of developers.

In the next TEDx Talk, the author and chief evangelist of Apple, Guy Kawasaki, lists 12 lessons he learnt after collaborating with Steve Jobs. Some of them have much to do with the elements that make open innovation work and, especially, crowdsourcing.

Firstly, he stresses that innovation is about changing the world. It is a challenge to the status quo so it does not matter what experts say about an idea. Great ideas are something in which you have to believe in first to see how they actually become a reality, he says. This is the same passion that drives many developers joining forces in crowdsourcing platforms to materialize an idea. It is not something that has to do with profits, but strictly with engagement with interesting challenges and solutions, and that creates significant value.

Another interesting aspect that he stands out is that the action rarely occurs in the curve in which a company is. The companies that normally define themselves in terms of what they do are not usually those that come up with huge innovations. On the contrary, it is increasingly common for these innovations come from outside a company and its R&D departments, through external collaboration, which can bring new insights and disruptive projects, or directly from the edges.

Kawasaki also mentions that value is not the same as profit, and this is precisely what is relevant in many collaborative or crowdsourcing projects.

Besides the Kawasaki chat, I recommend you this article by Geoffrey Moore (Open Innovation: Top-Down Meets Bottom-Up), also in the line of how open innovation is helping innovation move from the center of companies to the periphery, and the values that allowed this process.

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