The 3 Do’s For You in Managing Open Innovation Challenges
We’ve all heard the adage, “There’s no I in team.” and we understand what that statement means. You can’t get there alone and everything is truly a team effort. As true as truisms get, there is good reason we’ve been hearing this since we were kids. Furthermore, this saying carries over quite nicely into this new era of global platforms and communities such as TopCoder that are helping enterprises accelerate innovation and boost productivity via Open Innovation practices.
Accessing specialized talent via open challenges and competitions only bolsters the point further that in today’s business environment, you just can’t go it alone. With all this said, there is a misnomer regarding the level of participation and management techniques required to get the very most out of an Open Innovation engagement. There may be no I in team, but there is most definitely an I in Open Innovation, and it’s you.
We discussed in a recent blog post 3 Tips On Communicating with an Open Innovation Community and we suggest you read that article as a nice base for the following Do’s of managing challenges, competitions, and an entire Open Innovation strategy.
The 3 Do’s For You in Open Innovation
There are 3 key “Do’s” to master when it comes to effectively managing Open Innovation challenges and projects, they are:
In Community YOU Trust
This is a macro “do” within management of individual Open Innovation challenges. Whether you call your knowledge and innovation source a community, a crowd, your fan-base, or something in between, it is of huge importance that you trust this source.
At TopCoder, trust is earned. It’s not a fluffy feel-good euphoria, but rather a metric driven predictability that bolsters your trust in community. Of course, trust is also formed over time by consistent performance from the members who comprise your community.
If you can’t trust your source and your platform to deliver you results, then you will struggle letting go and your productivity will suffer greatly.
Once trust is established, it’s time to learn to let go. This does not mean you do nothing, but this does mean you do things wildly differently. You are not meant to dive into the mosh-pit of Open Innovation, meaning you are not someone producing the work, or the code, or the solution, but rather you must purposefully step outside the sphere where the actual work is getting done and concentrate on the factors that help the community perform. Instead of being the solver, you must be the great facilitator. Concentrate on communicating exceptionally, providing the community access to any data and expertise they will need, and beyond. Do these things remarkably well, trust your community and let go of what you traditionally viewed as your work.
Become the Maestro – Challenge Yourself
The whole point of Open Innovation is to be more productive and solve challenges you couldn’t possibly tackle in a traditional work environment (including outsourcing). So don’t settle for a mediocre workload. It takes time to master management of an Open Innovation community and like all other things, it’s crucial to have goals and an understanding of just how much you seek to accomplish through an Open Innovation platform.
Once trust is established and you’ve learned how to let go of individual challenges, then you are ready to go further and begin working in a massively parallel fashion. This means multiple challenges, multiple projects, running in parallel and you accomplishing far more than you ever thought possible through any traditional work means. To continue the musical analogy, stay out of “first seat trumpet” and keep yourself firmly planted with baton in hand, orchestrating the myriad projects in parallel.
At TopCoder the kind of scale described above is possible because of copilots. Copilots are a talented and select group of TopCoder Community members who have proven to be exceptional technical managers of TopCoder competitions. They manage the varied aspects of crafting, launching, and managing competitions all the way through successful delivery. They do the heavy technical management on individual projects & competitions while you concentrate on strategy and value delivery of the whole.
Be the Transformation Your Enterprise is After
If you work for a global enterprise and you are creating assets via Open Innovation practices, you have been given a golden ticket the vast majority of the world’s workforce is yet to experience. For an enterprise to pivot and adapt Open Innovation as a transformational force and a new way forward in productivity, they are going to need you to lead the way. There still may be no I in team, but when it comes to Open Innovation, it still boils down to individuals championing a change and leading the way forward. Almost ironically, this change takes place inside global enterprises comprised of tens of thousands of employees, while utilizing open communities like TopCoder that have more than 413,000 global members. And yet, all this change, all this transformation begins here, with one individual… you.
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