Jeffrey is VP of Marketing and a lead consultant with OVO Innovation. Jeffrey’s led innovation projects for Fortune 5000 firms, academic institutions and non-profits all based on OVO Innovation’s trademarked Innovate on Purpose method.
He was one of the 34 innovation experts who contributed a chapter for the excellent book A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowd-Sourcing: Advice from Leading Experts. Jeffrey’s chapter is Open Innovation Typology.
And after reading Jeffrey's chapter it's clear there is a type of innovation that can fit any organization, for-profit or not, global giant or mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar and as importantly a type that fits anyone's budget.
It made sense to ask him how Open Innovation and the right type of Open Innovation would help us with this pressing problem of innovation, our economy and jobs.
I asked him:
We've reached the imagination moment in our show. Let's imagine President Obama had a few moments this week. He finds your book, reads your chapter. And calls you.
Jeffrey, he says because he's the President. At this point in our declining ratings as a nation of innovators any type of open innovation will work. The challenge for us is to find one and move forward.
What if you came up to the White House and met with myself and Vice-President Biden. We want to hear your thoughts, maybe 3 things that we as a nation can do to identify the type of open innovation that can return us to being number one, generate some new businesses with new jobs.
What do you tell him?
And, he answered:
Let say the first thing, I didn’t know you were going to ask me this question specifically. I write a blog called Innovate on Purpose. Yesterday, I wrote a blog post called Innovate Anywhere and I riffed off the poem of The Ancient Mariner. You know:
Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink.
We live in a society and a time when we are literally awash in a time of ideas. And the interesting thing is our government is really dead-locked. And it seems stagnant. At a time when there are so many good ideas out there it seems it’s really more about having the political will to change perspectives and adopt or at least ask people for their ideas as opposed to trying the same tired solutoins over and over again.
I’ll direct your listeners to my blog.
But I think there would be three things.
First, the government can’t just be willing to listen to these ideas. They have to be willing to adopt those ideas and to demonstrate that:
“We listened and here’s the results from that action.”
So, the first one I would suggest are philanthropic contests. Can we create a contest much like BP had with the oil spill. What’s one thing you would change in the Department of Commerce. And if you recommended it how would, what would it change and how would it change people’s every day lives in creating jobs. And I use the Department of Commerce as an example. It could be any of the departments.
But, what we should be able to do is suggest very specific ideas that might drive jobs or help the government spend more money effectively or ways to cut costs or abuse and those kinds of things. And be very specific about ways with each agency of allowing people to make ideas.
The government has already started this with Challenge.Gov. But it needs to go a lot further. And it needs to demonstrate it through lots of small experiments. So, as we get these ideas we start kicking off very small experiments.
2nd idea you asked about was If President Obama asked me...was clearly here in the US we’re pretty smart. But we don’t have a lock on the best ideas. Are there places in other countries, other companies, other non-profits, where a problem we’re facing is solved better some place else. This would allow other people, other organizations, other countries, other companies, to submit ideas to the government:
“We see you have this problem. We think we have a better solution than you have.”
That would mean we would have to open up our minds and our political processes to be willing to listen and look at other ideas and accept those ideas.
The 3rd thing I would tell from an open-innovation perspective would be to merely opening up to new voices. I think that our government may be just a bit locked into 535 members of Congress and maybe I don’t know 15 or 20,000 lobbyists on Capitol Hill. That means those are the voices that get heard. There’s 300 million of the rest of us whose voices aren’t getting heard. Are their ways we can begin to compound our voices and get behind specific initiatives and ideas that can then be communicated to our government agencies.
What we’re really talking about is true democracy is true open innovation. If you think about it, it’s people with great ideas trying to press their will on the majority that eventually hopefully many in the majority will accept and it becomes a law.
I think we’ve lost a little bit of our democratic process in allowing ideas to bubble up. And it would be interesting to see if there were different ways to allow open innovation platforms or purely democratic platforms, democratic with a small d, to allow us to bubble ideas back up, bubble legislation, as well into the federal government.
So, those are 3 things. All those are pie-in-the-sky. We’re in the imagination phase as you said. I can be a bit imaginative and hope for the best.
Want more from Jeffrey Phillips?
Follow him on Twitter at OVOInnovation
Read his blog: Innovate on Purpose.
Some may say this is inappropriate.
This is politics! And you never discuss politics at Thanksgiving Dinners, backyard barbecues and on a business radio show.
I disagree. As long as only politicians can discuss solutions for our country then those solutions and their interested audiences will remain off-limits, political, for those who make this brand, our country, run. And only politicians, these days that's only career politicians, can discuss those ideas and spoon-feed solutions to the public.
I see our times as an all hands-on-deck opportunity and not a crisis.That opportunity is for each of us to lend our hands, our conversations, our ideas to find and share solutions. In our absence those challenges are left to ideologues, vested interests and politicians of all stripes and partisan persuasion. We...are the only ones with vested interests. And now we have, with social media and the urgency of today, the opportunity to reclaim our place at this table and discuss our ideas to solve our challenges. At the very least, we can listen to a discussion until we are ready to speak up.