Open Innovation Basics: Reframing Problems to Generate Solutions

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.

To keep up with a rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations are constantly faced with complex challenges that demand innovative solutions. Traditional problem-solving methods often fall short in addressing these intricacies. This is where the power of Open Innovation comes into play. Open Innovation not only brings fresh perspectives to the table but also enables companies to reframe problems and generate effective solutions in ways previously unexplored.

Reframing Problems for Fresh Insights

One of the key advantages of Open Innovation is its ability to help organizations reframe problems. Often, when a problem is examined from different perspectives, new insights emerge that might not have been apparent before. By involving diverse external stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, experts from other industries, and even individuals from a global crowd, companies can gain fresh viewpoints that challenge assumptions and spark creativity.

For example, if a company is struggling to reduce waste in its manufacturing process, involving external experts in sustainability can lead to novel approaches that might not have been considered within the organization. The collective wisdom of diverse participants can inspire innovative strategies, helping to uncover hidden opportunities within complex problems.

Generating Solutions through Collaborative Networks

Open Innovation is not just about reframing problems. Focusing solely on the input leaves the output underdeveloped and leads to outcomes that don’t reach full potential. It’s also about generating solutions collaboratively.

By building a network of partners, both inside and outside the industry, organizations can tap into a wider array of expertise, resources, and ideas. Crowdsourcing, open Challenges, and innovation contests are popular methods that leverage the collective intelligence of a diverse community to generate innovative solutions.

For instance, a technology company seeking to develop a new product might hold an open Challenge, inviting engineers, designers, and entrepreneurs from around the world to submit their ideas. This not only leads to a diverse range of solutions but also fosters a culture of engagement and excitement among participants which will continue to snowball as more Challenges get released.

Steps to Leverage Open Innovation for Reframing Problems

Identify the Challenge: Clearly define the problem you’re facing and the outcomes you’re seeking.

Diverse Stakeholder Engagement: Invite a wide range of individuals, including customers, partners, experts, and even competitors, to contribute their perspectives. With Wazoku, our Crowd of 700,000+ Solvers, Start-Ups, and SMEs is the world’s first accredited open talent platform.

Cross-Functional Collaboration: Encourage collaboration between teams with different expertise, fostering the exchange of ideas and knowledge.

Leverage Technology: Use digital platforms and tools to facilitate virtual collaboration, enabling seamless communication and idea sharing.

Structured Innovation Processes: Establish a structured process for collecting, evaluating, and implementing ideas to ensure effective outcomes. Wazoku’s Challenge Driven Innovation® methodology, for example, has been proven to generate real world value. Across 2,500+ Open Innovation Challenges, this methodology has returned a success rate of ~80%.

Recognition and Rewards: Incentivize participation by offering rewards, recognition, or even opportunities for partnerships or investments to those who contribute valuable insights.

Iterative Approach: Embrace an iterative process, refining ideas and solutions through continuous feedback and testing.

The Road Ahead

In a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, leveraging Open Innovation is not just an option but a necessity for companies aiming to stay competitive. By embracing external perspectives, reframing problems, and generating solutions through collaborative efforts, organizations can navigate the challenges of today’s dynamic environment with greater agility and creativity.

Open Innovation transcends traditional boundaries and brings together the collective wisdom of the global community. As organizations continue to embrace this approach, they will find themselves better equipped to tackle complex problems and create transformative solutions that drive growth and innovation.

Unleash the power of the Crowd with Wazoku

Ready to take the next step? Take a look at the benefits of our Open Innovation solutions

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.