How to get the rest of your business to embrace open innovation

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Whether it is an energy company seeking to reduce its carbon emissions, a manufacturing giant seeking to optimize its operations or a bank seeking to expand its service offering, Open innovation is a proven way to quickly reach ambitious goals.

Open innovation is based on the idea that, in a world of distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely solely on internal research and development. Instead, they should open up, find solutions, and collaborate with outside innovators, like startups.

However, it can be difficult to involve the whole business.

“Most businesses and organizations today understand the value and even the urgency of open innovation,” says Roni Kenet Harmelin, chief commercial officer and chief of staff at open innovation company SOSA. “But many of them still struggle to implement an innovation process that brings measurable business results.”

Roni Kenet Harmelin, Commercial Director and Chief of Staff of SOSA


Harmelin says one of the biggest hurdles are internal cultural barriers, such as when an internal stakeholder is unhappy with a disruptive new idea or a change in the business. But there are proven methodologies that can help overcome this challenge.

Here are some tips on how to get the rest of the business to buy your innovation ideas.

What to do when you hit a “no” wall

Uzi Scheffer, CEO of SOSA, explains that one of the common reasons innovative ideas often run into opposition is that people are reluctant to change, intimidated by what such a change might mean for their work or simply too busy with their daily lives.

“People don’t like change and the bigger the organization, the harder it is to implement changes and new ideas. Innovation means change by definition, ”he says. “The result of such a change can be incredible for the organization, for the industry, for the planet and for society, but it can also mean a change in the HR structure – some jobs can be cut, while many more can be created. “

“People don’t like change and the bigger the organization, the harder it is to implement changes and new ideas. Innovation means change by definition.

He adds that in order for people to step out of their comfort zone, it is essential to involve them from the start: “A real incentive is needed, but even more: they have to be involved in the process from the earliest stages. This is the only way to have the right stakeholders from organizations on board to support the implementation of disruptive innovation.

Uzi Scheffer, CEO of SOSA

To address this issue, Scheffer says SOSA believes in building processes with a particular focus on how and when the organization’s innovation team interacts with business units.

“The right engagement with business units is the key to a successful open innovation project,” he says. “First of all, we make sure we have the sales teams around the table early on in the process, which is when we define the strategy, the opportunity and the type of technology that we will be looking at. enforce. “

“Second, we make sure that tangible business results are set as goals for the project. This process ensures high engagement, a sense of ownership and responsibility, and most importantly, it helps overcome potential objections.

How to present your ideas

You have therefore proposed the innovative solutions that you wish to promote internally. Now, how do you share them so that they are better received?

For Scheffer, the best way to present innovative solutions is to have a very focused insight into how they can help a company meet its key business objectives (KPIs). The more specific you are in terms of case studies and examples of specific solutions, the better.

“We bring together the management of a business unit or the top management of a company around the table,” he says. “The research that we present with the innovation teams is very practical, so we are able to demonstrate the business impact that such solutions present. ”

Sheffer adds that this was made easier during the pandemic, as the table can now be virtual and larger.

He cites the example of SOSA’s client, Swiss Re, a reinsurance company.

“What we did with Swiss Re was take eight use cases, led by eight business units, and solve them in an intensive week-long bootcamp involving dozens of company executives.” , he said.

“The reason it’s so important to focus on creating tangible business impact through innovation is that it’s contagious,” he says. “Once success is proven with a business unit, all of a sudden everyone wants to participate and the other business units want to participate as well. “

“Once success is proven with a business unit, all of a sudden everyone wants to participate and the other business units want to participate as well. “

When to involve various business roles in the decision-making process

Harmelin says it’s “almost a requirement” for SOSA customers to involve representatives from their business units as early as possible, as they are the ones who are likely to be responsible for adopting the new technology.

“If the business units are engaged in the process from the first step, you know you’re trying to solve something that makes sense to them and the commitment will be there,” says Scheffer.

French energy company Schneider Electric works with SOSA to find external startups to help them with their sustainability and digitization goals.

If the business units are engaged in the process from the first step, you know you are trying to solve something that makes sense to them and the commitment will be there.

“They really helped us find new, early-stage and more mature startups,” says Mariette Oudin, EMEA Business Incubation Manager at Schneider Electric Ventures. “What’s important for us is to really disrupt and design the future so that we become more and more digital and more and more sustainable.”

Oudin says that SOSA has helped its innovation teams engage with the right people, in order to educate them.

“We have internal challenges at Schneider that we asked them for their ideas,” she says. “They helped us connect with the right people in the company and made our employees aware of what it’s like to work with a startup, and more specifically what it’s like to work with. a very early start-up. ”

One startup that Schneider has worked with is BionicHIVE, says Oudin, which develops autonomous robotic fleets for warehouses. Together, she says, they are renovating Schneider’s warehouses.

Join a business accelerator program

Harmelin says that each year, SOSA identifies more than 2,000 technologies from around the world, enabling more than 400 business engagements between companies and tech startups, leading to dozens of strategic implementations and investments.

One way to get involved is to join SOSA’s Business Accelerator Program, which counts Schneider Electric among the alumni. It takes six startups over six months to solve your industry’s most acute challenges.

Harmelin says it’s an opportunity for companies to speed up their open innovation processes and get real results – fast.

Struggling to get the business to embrace open innovation? Join SOSA’s corporate innovation programs here.

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