What do you think about when someone asks what open innovation is? There is of course the long winded answer, that says that “open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology”.* Open innovation also presupposes the idea of using or building a collaborative community, that will contribute ideas and solutions to a given challenge.
How would you explain this concept to a child? Certainly if you talk about paradigms and similar concepts it will become too complicated. Today I had the best idea on how to do it: think of how you would go around making a sandwich when you don’t have any money. You need to make a sandwich but you only have the bread, so you’ll be asking others to contribute something to your lunch. Each ingredient and layer on your sandwich will be like the ideas contributed to a challenge. Sometimes on their own they might not be too exciting or even possible but once they are stacked up and put together end up composing a delicious sandwich and at the same time a solution to your problem: your missing lunch!
*From the Wikipedia entry on Open Innovation