A new study at the  Berlin (ESMT) suggests that there are three main practices businesses should undertake to enjoy the benefits of open innovation.

The recent study by Linus Dahlander, Professor and KPMG Innovations Chair at ESMT and Stanford PhD Henning Piezunka, looked at 23,800 organisations which use online feedback mechanisms in almost every sector.

Data suggests that the success of online suggestion solicitation varies widely.

However, if companies want external contributors to engage, they must follow three practices:

Offer proactive attention – Instead of waiting for suggestions, the company should initiate the conversation with an internally developed suggestion to stimulate debate.

Offer reactive attention – All companies should actively respond to suggestions from external contributors to signal that their thoughts are being heard. The study found that this was especially important for newcomers to the discussion.

ESMT (PD)Catalyse – Organisations should focus their efforts on new users and the early stages of their open innovation effort. In particular, organisations need to be aware of the time, the effort and commitment required to nurture a fledgling forum into a thriving discussion. This includes establishing a process for retrieving, reviewing and responding to suggestions.

Prof Dahlander says:

"Many attempts at open innovation campaigns often wither and die. One of the reasons why most organisations fail to elicit suggestions successfully is because outsiders don’t see how much effort actually goes on behind the scenes. Our suggestions might seem like common-sense rules for successful communication but the reality is that companies frequently underestimate the investment needed and often fail to apply such widely understood best practices when it comes to corporate engagement. If organisations actually adopt the strategies of proactive and reactive attention, they can then unlock the enormous potential of open innovation"

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