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Open Innovation Basics: Behind the Scenes of our Open Innovation Process

By Catalina Gomez

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Changing the world, one idea at a time has to start somewhere. Even the organizations that regularly bring about revolutionary change had a first step to take on their journey. In the Innovation Basics series, we focus exclusively on what that first step could look like for newcomers to the innovation world. This series of Innovation Basics focuses on Open Innovation. Follow this guidance to achieve faster, better innovation.

The beauty of Open Innovation lies in its inclusivity. The process that we use through the Wazoku Crowd welcomes contributions from diverse fields. This allows the organizations running these Challenges to tap into approaches to these problems from unique angles that wouldn’t be otherwise considered. It also provides an opportunity for the Solvers to build their profile, enhance their professional network, and to be on the front line of groundbreaking change.

Engaging with the Wazoku Crowd platform feels like entering a thriving marketplace of ideas. The user-friendly interface enables Solvers to explore Challenges that align with their interests and skills, fostering a sense of purpose and motivation. The collaborative environment encourages interaction with fellow Solvers, transforming the process into a dynamic exchange of thoughts and insights – this network of sharing is best seen on our thriving Solver Community.

But you probably already know all of this. If you’re a Solver that has spent any time on our platform at all, you’ve already got first-hand experience of the platform and understand the very important role you play in delivering Open Innovation. What you probably don’t know – and what we’re going to investigate today – is what goes on behind the scenes.

Wazoku’s Open Innovation Process

Pre-Launch:

Before a Challenge is launched, a lot of work goes into making it as accessible and as appealing as possible. Our team is in constant contact with the Seeker organization(s), discussing the framing of the question, what IP is required if any, the acceptance criteria for a solution to be successful, and the award amount or collaboration agreement.

This is all geared towards driving maximum engagement in a Challenge. You may have noticed that many of our recent Challenges are now completely visible before anything is signed, as part of our goals to increase transparency and better define expectations from the very start. Our Open Innovation and community teams are undertaking many new changes, where we are refining our process to create a true diversity of perspectives in the submissions pool. Stay tuned for more updates on this!

Challenge Live:

We never just launch a Challenge and leave it to run itself. When a Challenge is live – normally over a period of 30 days, if there is an end date – we’re including it in all our communications through social media and our newsletter bulletin. We’ve also begun to review and comment on submissions as they come in across some recent Challenges, advising on ways in which they can be improved to better align with the requirements of the Seeker organization. Across our Wazoku Crowd team, giving our Solvers the best chance of success is a priority.

After the Challenge:

This is the part of the Challenge life cycle that seems the most closed off and mysterious. When a Challenge closes and ceases to accept new submissions, there is the evaluation period. This is where every submission – in one or multiple stages, which can include initial screening and through to stages of further review – is assessed against pre-agreed criteria set out as part of the Challenge. The evaluation team of the Seeker organization, in partnership with the Wazoku Open Innovation team and, on occasion, an external party, select the submissions that most closely match these requirements.

In some Challenges, one submission is awarded, in others multiple ones can be. Regardless of whether an idea is awarded, submissions will often receive feedback on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the idea itself. Depending on the type of Challenge run, these awarded submissions can then be tested, or the Solver brought in to partner with the Seeker organization on the project moving forward.

Soon, many Challenges will begin to celebrate the ‘Honorary Mentions’: ideas that did not quite meet the threshold for monetary award or partnership but are worth celebrating by both Wazoku and the Seeker organization.

In this blog, we’ve looked at the Open Innovation process. We’ve outlined its purpose and taken those players who are fundamental to its success – our Solvers – behind the scenes. We’ve shown what happens before a Challenge is launched, when a Challenge is live, and what happens after the closing date.

We hope that this provides you with greater context into the work that goes into delivering Open Innovation Challenges and that things which may not have made sense before do make sense now.

Read the full Open Innovation Basics series

What do we mean by Open Innovation?

Behind the scenes of our Open Innovation process

Reframing problems to generate solutions

Understanding the power of the Crowd

The post-award timeline

Giving your solutions the best chance of success

The student opportunity

By Catalina Gomez

Catalina manages the experience of Wazoku's global crowd of 700,000+ problem solvers. Away from her desk, she's an incredible artist, regularly producing cartoons and illustrations for her friends and family.