Open innovation is all about knowledge sharing. If you are about to implement an open innovation strategy into your innovation process you must rely on your employees sharing their knowledge with their co-workers inside and outside of their organisation. However, research shows that many are not ready to let go of their learnings that they have accumulated over many years. Understandably. But what do you do if open innovation is the only way to maintain your competitive edge?
Innovation management is 60% psychology and 40 % economy
First of all, it is important to understand that innovation management is 60% of psychology and 40% economy. Which is the reason why entire companies – and this applies especially to medium-sized businesses – are reluctant to integrate open innovation approaches into the process of their innovation management. In many cases, the fear of disclosing internal knowledge still dominates, and thus carelessly jeopardizing a supposed competitive advantage over the competition.
However, in view of the ever-increasing complexity of the economy, its global scope, and the rapid shortening of product lifecycles, it is now becoming increasingly important to cooperate with other companies. It allows companies to tap into external knowledge and integrate into their own processes: This is vital for many companies to survive in global competition.
The existing fear of many companies to lose knowledge is unfounded
The still existing fear of many companies to lose knowledge is unfounded, because studies show that in all open innovation projects the increase in knowledge is greater than the loss of knowledge. However, this only works if everyone involved is following certain rules. First and foremost, it is necessary to clearly define your own Open Innovation process: How ‘open’ do you want your employees to be and which potential partners should be involved? How are disputes resolved that might arise between the companies and how do you share your profits between the partners? There needs to be a contract that defines those conditions.
Many companies believe that open innovation processes are only successful if the partners involved disclose all their data, facts, and figures. Which is absolutely not true. Rather, open innovation processes deal with concrete issues, for example from research and development or market trends. The key is to find solutions together and to bundle competencies in the development process in order to generate new ideas and approaches more quickly. This requires that companies be more open with their knowledge in the future.
Your employees are the crucial factor
Of course, your employees are the biggest factor. In many cases, they are afraid of becoming superfluous with new technology or losing tools they already know. Anyone who wants to be innovative with their own company should, therefore, train their employees before the introduction and make it clear to them what success a changeover can bring. Only together can open innovation bring a company to a better and more efficient level.
In a nutshell: Knowledge sharing is becoming an essential success factor for globally operating companies. This requires rapid implementation and the willingness to “let go” of one’s own knowledge. Instead of clinging to old knowledge, the ability to think lateral, recombine, and link should be perceived as a true supreme discipline. Knowledge only increases in value if it is constantly renewed in exchange with others.
Things to remember when implementing an open innovation process: 1. Train your employees before implementing an open innovation approach. 2. Set clear rules for the open innovation process. 3. An increase in knowledge is greater than the loss of knowledge. 4. Open innovation allows one to tap into the knowledge that would otherwise be out of reach.

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