Stop Trying to Innovate in an Echo Chamber

By Jon Fredrickson

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InnoCentive is now part of Wazoku

The term “echo chamber” has seen a huge resurgence over the past year. It was a runner up for Word of the Year in 2017, and everyone from politicians to media pundits and tech CEOs have adopted the term into their everyday vernacular. But it’s not the echo chambers created by political parties that should have innovators concerned. Instead, they should be focused on the echo chambers that may be cultivating within their own business, those that lead to stifled innovation, confirmation bias in research and delayed development of new products and ideas.

What is an Echo Chamber?

For those who have avoided the term, echo chambers are created when people insulate themselves from outside ideas and new viewpoints that contradict what they already know. They create a cloistered environment where the chances of successful innovation are severely decreased because new ideas are not introduced to the environment.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Breaking Out of the Echo Chamber

The best, quickest and most affordable way for organizations to improve their innovation efforts is to break out of their echo chambers, open up their innovation departments to new ideas, and free themselves from seclusion. But this doesn’t simply mean making new hires. While hiring new talent can help, it is often the case that these new idealists become subject to the same echo chamber that has consumed the innovators who have been working within the organization. It’s not enough to simply bring in new talent.

Where to Get New Ideas

While hiring a new R&D employee can solve some problems, there are other solutions that can also be effective in bringing new ideas into your organization:

    • Go to the consumer: strategies that focus on customer feedback often bring new innovative ideas to help evolve a product or service.
    • Foster a better innovation environment: research has shown that the best way to develop innovation that is driven by internal employees is to build an environment that allows employees to feel safe and secure in sharing their ideas. Employees should not feel like they will be ridiculed for bringing new ideas to the table, nor should they fear losing their jobs if they explore new pathways of innovation.
    • Embrace the crowd: there is an entire world of innovators and experts outside the walls of your internal department. Many industries are embracing crowdsourced solutions because of the success they have had with their solutions.

Open Up With InnoCentive

InnoCentive specializes in helping organizations break out of their echo chambers and embrace the power of Open Innovation. We help you transform your innovation goals into challenges that are then posed to a network of over 400,000 experts spread out across the globe. We bring new ideas into your organization, allowing your internal innovation leaders to break new ground on their research and development projects. Contact InnoCentive today to learn more about how our process has helped businesses and organizations all over the world.

By Jon Fredrickson

Jon is one of a small handful of experts globally in Open Innovation and connected ecosystems over the last 16 years, the last 3 years with Wazoku, following the InnoCentive acquisition. Jon's experience as an applied innovation futurist has helped his enterprise and government customers insure their success. When not helping clients innovating solutions going to Mars or developing cleaner energy, Jon enjoys family, perfecting smoked foods, and studying history, and ancient civilizations.