If you don’t adapt open innovation, you risk failing. When adapting your innovation strategy, pay close attention to, how you will process new knowledge and how you will capitalize on new innovations. 


Like with any process, open innovation needs to be modified to fit your corporation’s organizational structure and culture. Your workflow and innovation process will have to change. Your new process, should include an additional step. A step for collecting knowledge from outside your company. As well as, a set procedure on how to treat and implement new innovations. 

If you don’t adapt open innovation, you risk affecting its performance. Think of your new innovation strategy in a holistic way. 

Here are the four most common reasons why open innovation fails:

1. You Are Not Spreading Knowledge to the Right People or to the Right Places

Knowledge can get stuck with certain people, departments or locations. You must make it as easy as possible for knowledge to travel in your organization. One way is by making labor mobility as painless as possible. 

Encourage people to transfer to different departments or business units. This will enhance knowledge transfer and sharing. Don’t allow a lack of communication to create a Valley of Death – where innovations go to die.

2. You Are Outsourcing Innovators

To make full use of the knowledge you acquire through open innovation, you must have the qualified people in your corporation to manage the information. They are key in taking innovation and turning it into real business. 

It’s a mistake to think of open innovation as a substitute for internal R&D. You must keep internal R&D teams in place. These teams will be essential for when you have external innovations that must be adapted to meet your organization’s requirements. 

Even if the innovation is coming from another department in your organization, it will still need to be adapted. This is where having innovation teams in different business units becomes useful.

3. You are Losing New Business Opportunities Because You Won’t Allow Innovation to Leave Your Company

Some collaborators might feel threatened to allow shelved innovation (e.i. technology that’s been developed, but isn’t being used) to leave your organization. These collaborators prefer keeping the innovation in your organization – even though it’s not creating value – in fear of not being the ones to find its purpose.

In other words, your collaborators want to be the ones to find the right market opportunity for the shelved innovation. This practice, results in your company not exploiting your technology to the fullest.

4. You Don’t Have the Right Process in Place to Sort Outside Knowledge

One important aspect, that is often overlooked is how you will process outside knowledge. If you don’t plan for this you will have a bottleneck situation in your hands. 

More knowledge means more work. Planning accordingly is crucial. Plan on how you will filter through all the additional information, as well as, plan on how you will implement additional innovation projects.

Get the Right People, Funding, and Senior Management Support

To avoid the mentioned four potential pitfalls, you should align the right people, funding, and senior management in your company. This includes people in innovation, purchasing, and management roles. Without their full support, you risk affecting the potential performance of open innovation.

The information in this article came from Open Innovation Results: Going Beyond the Hype and Getting Down to Business by Henry Chesbrough.