Does it matter?
Jobs, Musk, Bezos – modern day innovators who have truly offered a transformation to the way we live. The genius of Leonardo Da Vinci still impacts our modern lifestyle today, and innovation was pursued with such fervor that it approximated religion for him (more on how we can model innovation after Da Vinci in a future post).
What Da Vinci emulated so masterfully was his reliance on the external world around him to inspire his work. In How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, we are given illustrative detail as to how this innovation pioneer relied on making connections to fuel his systems-level thinking (see previous post on the power of connectivity here: The Connectivity of Meaningful Innovation). When charged with innovating, the default for many is to internalize – reflect on what has been done, our performance, our objective and the path to that goal, evaluate our resources and self-analyze. Performing a SWOT analysis of sorts is integral in innovating (a good refresher here: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4245-swot-analysis.html), and it are those opportunities and threats, the outside environment, which is often forgotten when we embark on a journey to innovate. Da Vinci relied on his environment for education, inspiration, and awareness – it was his outside that inspired the inside, the environment that crafted his solutions for it.
In Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology, Chesbrough writes that “companies must think beyond their products and move outside their own four walls to innovate.” This imperative to operate outside the boundaries of our environment, specifically in healthcare, is integral to a comprehensive innovation strategy; when we borrow perspectives from industries unlike our own, the opportunities for incremental growth and strategic expansion can be as impactful as they are unpredicted.
The commonalities between two seemingly dissimilar businesses, such as healthcare and advertising, or in Da Vinci’s operations, zoology and aviation, can only be realized when they are exposed to each other, brought into each others’ walls. “Open innovation,” as coined by Chesbrough, dictates that “a company should make greater use of external ideas in its business and allow its own ideas to go out to others to use in their businesses.” This can only be done by looking outside one’s own walls. A growing number of successful organizations demonstrate the power of welcoming in “the outsiders,” and opening an exchange of ideas, perspectives and lessons that spur innovation. It is worthwhile to note that many of these entities which have successfully innovated by seeking out the opinions of “the outsider” are not in the primary business of healthcare; healthcare technology and pharmaceuticals – yes – but when we consider hospitals and primary health service organizations, there is a paucity of open innovators as compared to other industries. Acknowledging that the dissimilarities of business operations between two industries – primary healthcare and concierge technology, for example -will reveal far more opportunities for synergy through innovation.
Do you let the outside in to supercharge your innovation? Next time we will be revisiting the value of cross-pollination, and explore some real-world examples of a phenomena only possible with open innovation.