Open source innovation methodology – a next natural step?

Today I launch a small experiment.  And as the nature of this experiment is quite international, this blog post is written in English rather than in Norwegian.

For many years open source has been a viable alternative to proprietary solutions in several software application areas, and the list is growing.  Wikipedia and Creative Commons have brought the idea of open source from software to other types of content, including music, images and videos.

Within a quite different area, open innovation takes hold as a principle for achieving rapid and significant improvements of products, services and processes. To use the definition proposed by Henry Chesbrough and adopted by Wikipedia:

“Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology.”

But using external ideas implies the need to make people from different companies, countries and cultures work together, hopefully in a fairly streamlined way.  Many international consultancies are pretty good at this.  I have worked with a couple of them, and experienced the vital glue enabling cross-border, cross-culture development projects. It’s called methodology.  But most methodologies are perceived vital for creating and sustaining competitive advantage, and as such guarded as company secrets.

This brings me to today’s experiment, having a pretty significant collection of reusable practices in areas like innovation and strategic development. Yesterday morning a got an idea: What if a portion of this methodology was available to everyone, free of charge?  Will it spread?  Will it actually be adopted?  Will people make derived work based on what is made available?  Will other people be inspired to share their work?

The motivation for promoting this version of ‘open innovation’ is clearly related to a specific project I am working with, namely the creation of start-up company @pixellus which will employ specialists having Asperger diagnosis for digitalization and restoration of old pictures.  So the follow-up question is naturally:   If we participate in establishing an open source methodology for innovation, to what extent can this speed up social entrepreneurship ideas like Pixellus?

So here we are, starting very small with publishing our product idea evaluation checklist using the Creative Commons license Attribution – Share Alike.

We have used the product idea evaluation checklist on several engagements related to product/market strategies, plus for in-house developments and own investments.  Whether it truly summarizes ‘best practice’ is up to you to decide.  The checklist supports the go/no-go decision for significant product investments, forming vital questions to support six key criteria for selecting the best product ideas:

  • Market potential – is there a market of appropriate size for a product like this?
  • Product fit – does the product fit with current strategy, product portfolio, competencies etc?
  • Value proposition – can we create and sustain competitive advantage for this product?
  • Profitability – will the product be (highly) profitable?
  • Product solution and timing – is the proposed product solution and timing the best one?
  • Additional business potential – what additional “synergies” may be achieved if this product is given priority?

The Creative Commons “Attribution – Share Alike” license essentially means that you can do whatever you like with the checklist – as long you give us credit for the original work and intend to share your derived work with other people, using the same license.

So please go ahead!  Download the checklist (both PDF and Word versions are available), do whatever you like with it, and let me hear about it!

Here are the two versions of the checklist:

In a few minutes I will start sharing this link using my Twitter account @christianwig.  I am really curious on the responses.

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6 Responses to Open source innovation methodology – a next natural step?

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  2. Ivar Steen-Johnsen says:

    Great idea, hopefully it will travel far on Face and other modern times vehichles and help people make good decisions.

  3. Anders Skoe says:

    Great idea.
    When I published my first book, I proposed to my publisher that we say “please feel free to copy anything you like from this book, and refer to the source”. Needless to say, the publisher didn’t like it. So, the usual copyright….”All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form…..”
    People don’t respect this much, so why not encourage sharing.
    Naive? No, sharing and multiplying, and receiving….. What goes around comes around.
    Good luck.

  4. Christian Wig says:

    I guess a book publisher will not be the first in line promoting an ‘open source’ type of information sharing, unless the stated purpose is to provide some kind of ‘teaser’ for selling the book. But even if we exclude the publishers, there should be plenty of opportunities for putting together a fairly comprehensive and ‘open’ set of best practices for innovation, primarily based upon pieces of methodologies from consultancies. Maybe the non-commercial Creative Commons licenses is a way to go?

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