An recent article from the Economist made me think about how companies could learn from the distributed innovation of open source to find the great ideas within. The article is about InnoCentive, which helps connect problems with solutions:
[Innocentive] is based on a simple idea: if a firm cannot solve a problem on its own, why not use the reach of the internet to see if someone else can come up with the answer? Companies, which InnoCentive calls “seekers”, post their challenges on the firm’s website. “Solvers”, who number almost 180,000, compete to win cash “prizes” offered by the seekers. Around 900 challenges have been posted so far by some 150 firms including big multinationals such as Procter & Gamble and Dow Chemicals. More than 400 have been solved. InnoCentive reckons the approach can work for innovations in all sorts of fields, from chemistry to business processes and even economic development. It has formed a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, a charity, to help solve problems posted by non-profits working in poor countries, with some initial success.
how to design a better world