Friday, January 25, 2008

Observations from CoDev 2008

I just returned from an excellent conference on Co-Development, appropriately called CoDev 2008. The theme was Open Innovation, and the speakers were mainly people who led Open Innovation initiatives within Fortune 500 companies, across a number of industries. If you're not familiar with Open Innovation, it refers to everything having to do with reaching outside of your organization for new ideas - co-developing products, outsourcing design, licensing to name a few.

I'll blog in more detail about some of the talks, but here are a few of my initial observations and interesting tidbits.

  • Open Innovation is being embraced in a serious way. I met people from leading companies in food & beverage, film, consumer electronics, healthcare, packaged goods, and even cigarettes, who all had an Open Innovation team that reported to top management.
  • The prevailing driver for Open Innovation is fueling growth, shortening product cycles, and the realization that you, as a company, don't hold the monopoly on smart people and the best ideas.
  • P&G sources over 60% of new products externally.
  • P&G needs to create $98M of new revenue each week to satisfy their growth targets.
  • It takes time to change the Not-Invented-Here mindset. Even in companies like P&G, who have been doing open innovation for 10 years, fight the "but we could do it ourselves!" argument each time they bring in an external idea
  • WD-40 has been doing Open Innovation since before it was called Open Innovation. They do very little internally - including product development. They are a $300M business with about 260 people.
  • If you could do a co-licensing or co-development deal with your competitor that creates value for both sets of shareholders, why wouldn't you?
  • When you let internal ideas compete with external ones, it gives you more options to choose from, and more options will almost always lead to a better solution
  • Many talked about becoming the "partner of choice" - about striving to be the company that everyone wanted to do business with, and attracting new ideas and business opportunities.

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