Open Innovation is the future of collaborative problem-solving. And we’re all over it.

2nd September 2019

This article is part of a series of thought pieces celebrating the launch of AxiaOrigin, a values-driven consultancy which is dedicated to building a more prosperous and resilient future through the differentiated use of data and analytics.

“Making the room that much bigger”

Imagine using the power of the crowd to obtain answers about your undiagnosed medical condition. That’s exactly what Dr Lisa Sanders does in her New York Times column, Diagnosis (and seen in the Netflix documentary of the same name).

This is Open Innovation in action – utilising the knowledge and power of the crowd to solve problems and produce better solutions.

Dr Lisa Sanders seeks to help those who have undiagnosed conditions to get an answer by posting their story on her column, through that she seeks input and help from people across the world who may be able to offer a view on what the condition may be. She invites responses from everyone, using the global platform of the internet to reach as many people as possible – she does not just seek views from other doctors or physicians, but patients, relatives, students, academics or professionals in other fields (such as veterinarians) who may have seen or experienced similar symptoms – asking the whole community, those who have chosen to take an interest, to help. The responses and results are remarkable and transform the lives of those she’s helped to find a diagnosis.

“One of the tools doctors use is the other doctors in the room. And whether you get a diagnosis really depends on who’s in that room and who might see something that they recognise and understand and then identify it. So what we’re doing is just making that room that much bigger”

Communities like this give organisations access to resources and talent they otherwise wouldn’t have. By increasing the number of people working on a problem, you increase the diversity of thought and background of those participating. It’s not that every solution or suggestion will be the right one, in fact, most may be wrong, but you are dramatically increasing the chances of finding the best solution.

You increase the chances of having the right person look at the right problem in the right way – you’re making the room that much bigger.

Not just bringing the outside in

Open Innovation may seem like it is just about bringing the outside in. However, it is equally important to ensure that you bring the inside out.

Each type of Open Innovation has its own characteristics. As you would seek to create the conditions for your internal teams to perform at their best, you must do the same for the crowd that you want to engage – it is therefore crucial to understand what type of Open Innovation is best suited to the problem you are trying to solve.

You must understand the motivations and values of those you seek to include in your innovation process. This means, for example, offering back to the community and putting in place the appropriate incentives that cultivate a following so that the crowd continue to participate.

True and open collaboration has to happen with all parties involved for Open Innovation to thrive and to succeed sustainably.

What does this mean for you organisation?

At AxiaOrigin we believe that Open Innovation is the way that every organisation will approach their problem solving and innovation process in the future.

We are trying to make Open Innovation real for businesses and help decipher what it practically means – helping organisations to understand how to make the most of Open Innovation and ensure that efforts are not lost.

How are you plugged into the power of the crowd and how will you improve the precision and effectiveness of your crowd-based innovation efforts?

Whether you’re a small business, a global giant, work in the public sector or a charity – if you’re a business leader with a problem to solve and need help, get in touch.


Tim Ip | Co-founder