Standards and Open Innovation: make the most of “Open Knowledge”

  • Posted on: 24 October 2018
  • By: martin

There are many standards that can be of use to the open innovation practitioner, some are part of the general business landscape, because they contain technical requirements necessary for the production of some products and services, some because they provide a good management framework which can help businesses work more efficiently and effectively. There are two however that are directly relevant to open innovation: those covering innovation and collaboration management

What is innovation management?

Innovation management is simply the management of a process which facilitates the creating, filtering and fine tuning of ideas that provide a solution to a “problem” and adds value, this may be a product, service, organisational or process “problem”. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of innovations don’t come out of the blue like the apple falling on Newton’s head; they are brought about via a defined set of activities that can grouped under the heading “managing the process of innovation”. The creation of a global standard that collects good practice in innovation management from experts around the world, across an array of different sectors, and shares it, gives innovators a “common language” and a “common process” to encourage the global co-operation frequently needed to solve the problems of today.

 Isn’t standardising innovation a contradiction?

The idea of a process of “standardised innovation” seems a bit of an oxymoron: if everyone is approaching the problem from the same angle how can it be innovation? In fact, this is not a problem. Standards provides the foundations or building blocks that an organisation needs to carry out innovation activities. It is almost inevitable that the organisation will need to further build on this to align with their own goals and culture. The standard merely provides a structure which organisations can use to tie together research, development, and new markets/opportunities under an innovation system that encourages both focus and efficiency.

 What’s in the specification/standard?

Published across the 35 member countries of CEN from 2013 onwards, the European Specification in Innovation Management  PD CEN/TS 16555, consists of 7 separate parts:

  • Innovation Management System
  • Strategic Intelligence Management
  • Innovation Thinking
  • Intellectual Property Management
  • Collaboration Management
  • Creativity Management
  • Innovation Management Assessment

Part 1 (the overview) and its more detailed siblings are a great starting point to help you understand how to manage innovation activities and consider how your activities might mesh with those of other potential partners. It is worth noting that building on this European, and other national, specifications,  ISO/TC 279 the committee charged with delivering a new ISO innovation management standard is currently in drafting stage, with the first results likely to be published in 2019.

 What is collaboration management?

The benefits of collaboration, in business like in any context, are well known, resulting in more innovative ideas, reduced costs through efficiencies and sharing of resources and access to new services. But only, if things are done well! Managing collaboration requires an organisation to develop new skills that will ensure that Open Innovation activities are implemented successfully. The more preparation and thought that can be put into building relationships, the easier they are to start, maintain, and (where both parties can clearly recognise when the partnership is coming to a natural end) disengage. Collaboration is only effective if the relationship works.

 What’s in the specification/standard?

Collaborative Business Relationship Management Systems – Requirements and framework is a single document with the following key elements:

  • internal assessment of needs,
  • partner selection,
  • working together/partner management,
  • value creation,
  • staying together (relationship management)
  • exit strategies

are all outlined in ISO 44001 with various more in-depth appendices and checklists, and contained within a structure that should be familiar to anyone using other ISO management standards as it follows the same format (known as the High Level Structure or HLS).

 How do these standards fit with the concept of Open Innovation and the OI2Lab?

Successful projects are those that can accommodate changing circumstances and meet changing needs. Flexibility, adaptability and learning are very important when adopting open innovation, where projects are likely to be less linear and more experimental. Effective projects will be those that put the tools in place that recognize the different needs of the stakeholders, and that develop common approaches and language. Creating an environment that encourages exploration, and embraces diversity, is the key to successful open innovation projects.

More generally using internationally agreed methodologies to underpin your open innovation activities can bring the following benefits:

Your Market Access

  • Provide guidance on how an organisation can solve problems and fulfill unmet customer needs
  • Increase business opportunities and open up new markets
  • Reduce barriers to trade
  • Reduce time to market and/or time to profit (enhance the competitiveness of the organisation)

Your Innovation Culture

  • Develop open‐mindedness to accept new business models and methods
  • Promote the growth of an innovation culture with global objectives
  • Facilitate the implementation of both internal and external partnerships
  • Improve collaboration and communication on a global scale
  • Implement social responsibility in the organisation's innovation process
  • General business and Organisational Benefits
  • Save cost and reduce risk when innovating and collaborating across borders, via the development of standard tools
  • Increase the organisation’s ability to take decisions: test and try, fail fast, reasonable risk taking, robust response to challenges and global change etc
  • Improve the efficiency and the performance of the organisation to produce results from innovation
  • Improve results of internal innovation processes and better monitor the return of investments made in innovation activities
  • Share a globally accepted ‘common language’ for innovation management, evaluate the progress of the organisation and identify (and share) good practice in innovation and collaboration management

In summary, the OI2 Lab offers a single access point to a range of expert support based on the kinds of standards mentioned in this blog, with the OI2Lab either delivering services and training/support inhouse or directing the client to other regional or European agencies. Contact Terry McStea at RTC North (terry.mctsea[@] for further details.


Short CV of the Author

Martin McGurk is Innovation Director at RTC North Ltd and also works on behalf of Innovate UK-UKRI as Head of Operations for the Enterprise Europe Network in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. He is also a Board Member at Technology Innovation International (TII) and a member of the British and ISO Standards Committees drafting the forthcoming Innovation Management (ISO 5050x) standards family. Previously he has run, and contributed to, Open Innovation projects on behalf of the EC and multinational technology scouting projects. A graduate in mechanical and materials engineering from Newcastle University, Martin has a PhD in Wear Resistant Coatings. He has since worked as an engineer for PSA Peugeot Citroen and Schott Glaeverbal before moving into the world of SMEs: first as a lean/business improvement consultant, then managing steel fabrication/construction and factory process automation businesses, before moving into his current innovation, internationalisation and commercialisation activities.





Standards and Open Innovation: make the most of “Open Knowledge” | INVITE


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