Let them hack your innovation!

Thousands of different ways

There are many ways to harness collective intelligence to enhance your innovation, and drive “hackers to explore the details of your innovation and stretch its capabilities”: open innovation, social innovation, collaborative design, open source,…

Each of them has its benefits:

Open source management techniques

Innovation has become a collective adventure where management skills are equal to creativity skills to lead the innovation team.

How can we extend the innovation team, and shape a community of early adopters, lead users and developpers improving the value of innovation by building upon our platform?

Several worthwhile  “open source management techniques” are spotted in “The case of open source sofware development” by Sladjana Vujovic and John Parm Ulhøi:

  • Community is the metaphor: “Community is a common metaphor for open source sofware projects”. Metaphor is a symbol which drives imagination and starts creative processes as advised by Nonaka. On also talk about networks of collaboration.
  • Communitiy members develop a collective identity, including shared values and knowledge, by solving problems and becoming involved in their mutual work.
  • Work is split according to modularisation and distribution: “Modularization refers to the decomposition of software production, distribution refers to the way in which product development and innovation occur as distributed development processes, allowing developers to work simultaneously on different components without risk to the overall system.” I assume modularisation allow various levels of engagement and skills levels, enabling a large range of developers with different profiles to participate;
  • “Soft” governance orchestrates based on self-initiative: Precluding command-and-control governance and hierarchical organization, developers are free to choose which part of the software they want to work on.”

  • Project leader’s commitment is crucial, as well as presence and continuous involvement: “the more active the leader is, the more active the community will become
  • Though management is relatively “loose”, “social control” through the source code is demanding: “since the source code is open to everyone, it is also open to peer review, which encourages software development that best meets the collective needs of project participants”.
  • Knowledge transfer is permanently activated to build a collective memory: “When members leave a project, part of their knowledge disappears with them, but other parts have already been stored in the project’s software repository, which we describe as the collective memory of  the project.” Complex knowledge sharing or “re-experience is enabled by modular tasks and transactive group memory, rigid guidance of new members, openness and legitimate peripheral participation, asynchronous communication, and virtual experimentation.
  • Online networking and use of the Internet tools are prerequisite to spur communication, cooperation and coordination during the innovation process.
  • Incentives start with “the need for improvements: it drives initial participation” noted Sonali K. Shah in his 2006 research. “Developers join and contribute for different reasons, e.g. the desire to satisfy own needs (Franke and von Hippel, 2003), career concerns, reputation and learning (Lerner and Tirole, 2002)” analyze Vujovic and Ulhøi.
  • A small set of active developpers are critical to sustain project long-term evolution: “The majority of participants leave the community once their needs are met, however, a small subset remain involved. For this set of developers, motives evolve over time and participation becomes a hobby. These hobbyists are critical to the long-term viability of the software code to maintain the simplicity and modularity of the code.” adds finally Sonali K. Shah)

Motivation and reward

In “Facilitating customer involvement in collaborative online innovation communities”(2011), Maria Antikainen draws a  framework for building and managing a collaborative online innovation community, based on the knowledge of users’ motivations and the maintainers’ opportunities to reward them.

“Various factors  motivate participants: new viewpoints, a sense of efficacy, a sense of community and fun. Furthermore, interesting objectives, an open and constructive atmosphere, making and acquiring better products, winning and rewards, also motivated the respondents to collaborate.”

“The results indicate that the lack of proper tools inhibits collaboration in online innovation communities.”

“Moreover, 92% of the respondents suggested that all group members should be rewarded in some way. In addition to tangible rewards (e.g. money and products), intangible rewards (e.g. recognition) are also relevant.”

The future innovation system

Social product innovation is still experimenting: the future “living operating system for innovation” deriving from Web 3.0 intelligent agents and sensors is a target plan that has not been fully designed yet.

Still, “the ability to rapidly test ideas fundamentally changes the company’s mindset and approach to innovation. Rather than agonize for months over a choice, or model hypothetical scenarios, the company simply asks the customers and get an answer in real time” as explain Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, mentionning Google and Amazon “A-B” experiments to exemplify this situation.

Each innovation project staging collaborative innovation community is contributing to design the “future innovation operating system“, and helps refine the model step by step: this new innovation model is an on-going social innovation in itself!

Co-Creation and Open Innovation in New Product Development


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