13 November, 2012

On Open Innovation and Open Governance


As I wrote in my blog yesterday, on Thursday the 15th I'll be leading a discussion session about open governance in the Open Innovation track at the 'Summit of new thinking' in Berlin.

Edit: The video of my talk is up...

#SON12: Jos Poortvliet - Open Governance done right: creating rules without ruling from newthinking on Vimeo.

Open Innovation

I'm actually looking forward to that: the 'open innovation' thing was what once got me professionally interested in Free Software communities (while studying Organizational Psychology) and I still consider it an exciting topic. I did my thesis on open innovation but 10 years ago there was barely any research done in the area of open source governance and when I asked questions to my professors, blank stares where the result. These days, things are different (see for example this interview): the Academic world has seen what open source organizational methods can do and there is quite a bit to read about it.

Open Governance

The idea behind Open Innovation is to involve the entire organization with innovation and improving things. Both big and small - we're not just talking about creating 'The Next Big Thing' but also improving current products, structures, processes and more. Think about it as bottom-up innovation.

That only works if you have the right governance: the right structure and rules. Innovation is the first thing you stifle if you make mistakes in how you set up an organization. And you can't just create a 'department of innovation', stuff a bunch of folks in a room and tell them to innovate. It just doesn't work that way. Innovation comes from interaction: people talking to people. Sales together with Engineering, that kind of stuff. Creating an organization which is conductive to innovation is not easy.

Open Source communities of course excel at this: their organically grown structures and informal rules let people 'do what they want' and freedom is the foundation of innovative cultures. But these ways of working have their limitations - you can't be informal forever, not if you grow big. At some point, some guidance has to be there to prevent things from clogging up the wheels of innovation. Things like personal conflicts, fights about creative directions, strategic disagreements. And this is, again, where governance comes in. My session is sub-titled "creating rules without ruling", as in my opinion, it is more about writing down existing but implicit rules than creating new ones.

Qt Open Governance

Interesting in this regard is the Open Governance the Qt project is working on: building such structures 'from scratch' is not easy. You have to find out where you agree, yes, but while writing things down, implicit things become explicit and that goes for (potential) conflicts then too. But being able to do this in a fresh community, before ideas get entrenched! Having a chance to set direction in a 'soft' way. Terribly exciting!

Meet me, talk to me!

If you want to share thoughts with me on this topic, meet me at QtDevDays or at the Summit of New Thinking - or other events in the future (how about FOSDEM?).

In a while, Crocodile!

A few video's has been created for the conference. Esp the first one is funny ;-)

Check 'em out:
What is Open Innovation? (Chinese Whispers Game)
Open Innovation Track Day 1
Open Innovation Track Day 2
Rule No.1 for innovation: Have fun!

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