Earlier this week, ABN AMRO, released a report on Open Innovation, titled “Teaming up on Open Innovation: art or science?”. Although solely released for the food sector, it explores Open Innovation theory from a new and interesting perspective. The report is authored by prof. dr. Omta (University of Wageningen), dr. Fortuin (Food Valley) and drs. Dijkman (ABN AMRO).

The core of the article consists of 5 key elements: the critical (failure) factors for Open Innovation.

What are the critical (failure) factors of Open Innovation?
  • Defining problems and setting goals: according to the authors there are three ways of overcoming this issue. First of all, do a lot of (premature) research and dare to stop when you’re on a dead end road. Secondly, create road maps. Meaning: use trends and market knowledge to look at least 5 years ahead, because that’s time it takes for a radical innovation to land. And lastly, “look different, look foward”, referring to Henry Fords quotation: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
  • Partner selection: try to find partners as fast as possible. Management commitment in this process is essential. Also, don’t be egocentric. Open Innovation is about contributing rather than perceiving. And lastly, there is more contracts. A succesfull collaboration is built by mutual trust and commitment.
  • Building a contract: set rules and find and define the risks that are involved in collaboration. It is easy to say that risks are inevitable, but in fact, they are not if you think about them thouroughly.
  • Executing the Open Innovation project: don’t let fear rule the process. It happens to every project that – at some time – there is some distrust or mistrust in the partnership. Invest in trust, do what it takes. Link cultures and communicate oftenly and profoundly. This also means investing in speaking each others (technical) language and managing conflicts.
  • Monitoring the project: start off by knowing how important costs are, how the project will be managed and what other preconditions are necessary during the project.

Art or Science?

Oddly, the report doesn’t give an answer to the question that is raised in the title of their work. Which gives us the opportunity to ask you: what do you think: is Open Innovation art or science?