The 2013 edition of CoDev Conference took place this week in San Diego. This conference is the premiere gathering for those who are developing cutting-edge open innovation partnerships. Here innovation leaders from all over the world learned from each other how to find new ways to define their business models to deliver growth through Open Innovation.

For many years I have chaired this conference and this year was as interesting and educational as any previous. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with keynote speakers and business innovators Kevin Hartley, vice president of Corporate Strategy for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Jay Rogers, CEO and Co-Founder, of the customer-driven automobile microfactory Local Motors in Phoenix, Arizona. I wanted to hear these forward thinkers share how they meld innovation strategy and open innovation, and how their unique innovation models differ from traditional innovation practices.

No one model fits all companies, and they discussed how their models are continually evolving to meet the needs of consumers in an ever-changing economic climate. These leaders told us how, more than at any other time, they are finding incredible opportunities outside of their traditional boundaries with the discovery of fresh ideas, technologies and intellectual property.

More businesses are also integrating across functions to drive commercialization, and are finding new ways to foster collaboration with customers, suppliers, end users and employees. Add it all together, and you have companies represented like Nestle, Green Mountain, Kraft, Campbell’s Soup, Procter & Gamble and many others pursuing growth and new revenue sources.

Along with many international companies, business leaders in Northeast Wisconsin joined the conversation as well, including Mark Herzog, President & CEO of Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc, Vicki Updike, President of Miles Kimball Company in Oshkosh, and Ann Liebeskind, physician and previously Clinical Program Director of the Heart and Vascular Center at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital here in Appleton. Together we agreed that there are several succinct “Do’s and Don’ts” for achieving optimal success.

First we should always strive to choose our open innovation partners very wisely. You don’t want to rely on unproven partners and high risk opportunities to fulfill next year’s growth goals. But you will definitely want to experience the journey and the many alternative paths that you can explore to get to a win for everyone. And when those twists and turns along the way happen, there are the opportunities to experiment, be creative, and stretch your flexibility.

And last, but not least, do not underestimate how important alignment and culture are for forward movement. Make sure that you understand and practice the three C’s of any partnership: Communicate, communicate, communicate!


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