Define project structure

The sense of community is paramount for open innovation projects. In the ideal case scenario, the result is rarely achieved by individual people, but rather by the combination of all the good features of individual ideas or comments. In this context, open innovation requires the same coordination and fairness as any other form of team cooperation working towards an objective.

Key questions to consider when designing the project include:

  • What contributions are required from participants?
  • How will the community be moderated and by whom?
  • How will competition winners be selected?
  • What are the evaluation criteria?
  • What is the role of experts on the platform and on what basis does the jury make its decision?
  • What happens to ideas when the active phase is over?

Adequate consideration must be given to the various various aspects of fairness (interaction fairness, procedural fairness, fair share)  in the project planning phase.

The participation in crowd projects that is always assumed as being “voluntary” should in no way mean that unfair terms of participation must be accepted.

Transparency is essential in an open innovation organisation because, by definition, open innovation is transparent. Being open to problems and challenges can be difficult at first, but it can also open doors to unexpected solutions. If other people are aware of particular issues and loopholes, it is easier for them to find solutions that are precisely tailored to these.

In project planning, you must ensure that the terms and methods of participation are established right from the outset and clearly explained. In doing this, you should avoid legally complex wording and use language that is appropriate to the respective group of participants.

During the course of the actual project, you should also continue to demonstrate sufficient transparency, so that everyone involved in the project at that time is aware of the current status and what the planned next steps are.

Depending on the type of challenge of the innovation initiative, agreed and appropriate remunerations should be specified, such as, for example, cash awards, non-cash awards, internships, presentation of the winner’s name or an invitation to develop the idea or cooperation in the organisation.

Visibility in the community is also seen as a form of recognition of an individual's endeavours and promotes the appeal of the project. Depending on the target group, a career-related benefit is considered to be more rewarding and more motivating than a simple cash bonus.

Trust and fairness form the basis of open innovation processes. In this respect, it is very important to have trustworthy partners for specific project planning. For the first project, it is certainly an advantage to include external experts in the planning phase. They help with project planning, selecting methods and tools and contribute their own experience.


Further reading and sources

Vanhaverbeke, W. (2017): “Managing Open Innovation in SME”, Cambridge University Press, 2017

de Beer, J., McCarthy, I., Soliman, A., Treen, E. (2017): “Click here to agree: Managing intellectual property when crowdsourcing solutions”, Business Horizons, Volume 60, Issue 2, March–April 2017, Pages 207-217

Seja, c., Narten, J. (2017): “Creative Communities, Ein Erfolgsinstrument für Innovationen und Kundenbindung, Springer Gabler, Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2017

Gassmann, Oliver (2013): “Crowdsourcing. Innovationsmanagement mit Schwarmintelligenz. Interaktiv Ideen finden, kollektives Wissen effektiv nutzen. Mit Fallbeispielen und Checklisten.”, Carl Hanser Verlag München.

Donner, M. (2013) “Orientierungsrahmen für die Integration von Open Innovation im Innovationsprozess”, FH Südwestfalen, Bachelor’s dissertation 2013

“Intellectual Property Agreement Guide IPAG”, UNIKO and ncp.ip

Füller, J., (27 June 2012): “Die Gefahren des Crowdsourcing”