Open Your World recap: Stefan Lindegaard on Open Innovation Revolution

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After the success of our Open Your World webcast forum in May, we decided to make it a regular event. We're starting the series with Stefan Lindegaard, author of Open Innovation Revolution. The following are a few of the highlights from his talk. You can download a PDF of the slides from the talk at the end of this post, and we expect to post the audio soon.


If you look at especially the last five to seven years, innovation is now happening 24/7. But what's driving open innvoation in particular?

Look at what it takes to make innovation happen. It requires knowledge. And the main thing to understand about knowledge is that it's only inside our heads. That's good and bad. It's difficult to access the knowledge inside someone else's head. But thanks to open innovation and tools through the Internet, it's getting easier. For example, on sites like LinkedIn, you can access thousands of like-minded contacts in seconds.

And within your company, it's not necessarily just about having the right people, but about having access to the right people. Bradley Horowitz, a VP at Google, noted that it's important not to hire all of the "very Google people." It's better for the company to have them outside of the company. That helps create an honest industry, which means having them outside is more valuable than bringing them in.

An arrogant company would say of these people, "Who cares? They're not on our payroll." What they should be asking is how they can interact with those communities. That mindset helps develop projects and sites like

What is open innovation?

So how can we define open innovation? For every person you ask, you'll get a different answer. But it doesn't matter how any one person defines it. It matters what your company in your situation defines it as. However, in any case, it's about combining internal and external resources and having a structure for those opportunities.

Open innovation is very hard to copy. Implementing it as management and organizational innovation can give you significant competitive advantages. But open innovation isn't enough on its own. You must use it in a fast and global context. To see how the fast pace of change impacts innovation, watch Shift Happens.

Small companies, especially startups, are now frequently using rapid protoytping, being in beta mode all the type, rather than trying to get it right the first time. They experiment more. And small companies can do that more easily than large companies. We're going to see more of that in the future, and we're going to see big companies trying to emulate them.


Companies have begun creative destruction on their organizational setup, technologies, and business models. Customers don't care where new ideas come from. They care about the result.

If you want to work on the future of innovation, you need to become a better networker and communicator. Take a holistic approach. Or as Paul Campbell, a former VP of HP put it, "An intrapreneur must have the ability to see and pursue possibilities by piecing together innovations across three or more business functions simultaneously."


Look at the middle of the big cluster in this networking image.

The dot in the middle used to hold a lot of power. It could be positive, or it could be negative. Either way, those used to be the people with all of the power and opportunity in a company. Now it's changing. Look at the smaller clusters with more connections outside of their own groups. Those are the ones who will have more opportunities in the future. The power is changing from a tight unit to a system that lets people stretch across connections.

A strong networking culture can lead to a strong innovation culture, but you can't expect people to become better networkers. It requires a strategic purpose and tools to network.


Communication is key. Not just communication about proudcts and services and how to market something, though. It should also be about your corporate innovation capabilities and done through consistent behavior and messages. Think about how you can communicate about your innovation. How can you get open innovation integrated with your social media tools?



Visit Stefan online at or, where he posts thoughts on open innovation. You can also follow him there on Twitter.

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Ruth Suehle is the community leadership manager for Red Hat's Open Source and Standards team. She's co-author of Raspberry Pi Hacks (O'Reilly, December 2013) and a senior editor at GeekMom, a site for those who find their joy in both geekery and parenting.

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