In search of ‘best practices’ for Connected Innovation ideas and strategies

Large and small companies around the world are using open Connected Innovation strategies to re-invigorate and accelerate their innovation capacity. This movement goes one step beyond the “submit your idea” generation and allows participants to engage in the product development experience.

Here are three examples of Connected Innovation commercially at work:

• Starbucks built an online consumer community called MyStarbucks.com that facilitates open discussion of how to improve the Starbucks experience. Howard Schultz, CEO, claims that MyStarbucks.com has re-invigorated his innovation program by focusing business priorities on customer needs, like free Wi-Fi in all stores.

• Threadless.com won Inc. Magazine’s Most Innovative Company Award for 2008 for their “customer as company” business model. Threadless has neverhad a product intro bomb; they only produce what their customers want to buy.

Dell Idea Storm is an example of a social media execution. Idea Storm was launched by Michael Dell with the goal of repairing its customer service credentials, but it changed the way Dell does business. On Idea Storm, customers, programmers and the like post their ideas for improvement or enhancements. Because of the successful use of Connected Innovation strategy, Dell has been able to reduce its product development cycle time by six months.

Connected Innovation is the business process of using such online tools as user communities, blogs, innovation portals and social media to mine, connect, and route ideas, employees, consumers, customers, vendors, brands and technologies. More specifically, online communities, innovation portals and social media strategies not only create new connections but also allow the extraction of value from these connections.

My employer, General Mills, has given me the opportunity to explore the Connected Innovation concept. Over the course of the next six months, I will benchmark and research the best practices of leading organizations engaged in building connections to evolve their innovation capacity. My research will also provide a framework for building successful Connected Innovation websites, both inside the corporate firewall and external to customers in a B-C relationship.

I will also be a contributor for Minnov8, sharing insights collected along my journey. I look forward to the opportunity to interview and collaborate with Fortune 500 companies, social media and innovation thought leaders, and the broader digital community.

During the coming months, you can connect with me here at Minnov8, at my personal blog, Perspectives on Connected Innovation and Collaboration, and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/djsmith4. I am very interested in engaging in dialogue with you on this subject and look forward to connecting with the broader Minnov8 community.

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