CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 31

like we see in the household and

open innovation, and we're certainly

professional appliance industry. In the not going to be the last. As for the

of our normal processes. In other
words, open innovation enhances

first two to three years, we met with a

individuals and small companies

the ideation phase, but the execution

lot of skepticism that the investment

that want to participate in the open

phase remains unchanged.

in open innovation would be worth

innovation network-well, sometimes

the risk - but those days are

they want to sell an idea or a patent

behind us.

while other times they want to sell a

Two Streams of Ideas

product or even the company itself.

I want to be clear that our open
innovation approach hasn't changed
the way we do R&D. We have ideas or
we look for ideas, and then we execute

The trick is finding just the right

on them - that's the same as always,

The ideas coming into the company

idea in the flood that began once

but supplemented by additional

through the open innovation effort

we "opened our doors" - because,

sources. Truth be told, Electrolux's

are of two sorts. The first is a stream

quite honestly, 90% of what we get

open innovation initiative resides in

of ideas the open innovation team

is junk. But that's OK; it's part of the

R&D only because it's my pet project;

solicits because the company has a

game. The point is that we are able to

I brought the concept to the company

problem or an issue it hasn't been able

identify the 10% that make sense and

and carried it through to fruition.

to solve or a customer request it hasn't assess those as fast as possible. As we

Bringing ideas into a company and

been able to fulfill. The second is a

like to say, "If we are going to fail, we

soliciting proposals - those don't

stream of unsolicited ideas - we open

need to fail quickly."

have to be R&D jobs. Open innovation

the doors and in they come. In either
case, the starting point is a network
of trusted individuals, startups, small
companies, and other idea generators
that the open innovation team has
built up over the years. This network
includes longtime Electrolux partners
like suppliers and universities, but
the point is to break away from the

The Ideation Process
Here's how we do it at Electrolux:
My open innovation team (initially
three members and now up to
about 10) does an initial pass on all
ideas in order to filter out the crazy
ones. This first level of filtering is
unstructured and informal. If an

can just as easily be an independent
office. More important than where
open innovation resides is that it's not
perceived as a replacement for any
function. Sometimes you find ideas
and sometimes you don't. You can't
take the risk of having the network be
your only effort in support of ideation.

My team's earliest focus was on

team will then meet with whoever

Helping Both Product and
Process Innovation

building the network. In doing so,

in the company might be interested

With a lot of hard work and a lot of

we tapped a variety of resources.

in it, no matter the division or the

traditional sources.

idea makes it through that round, the

in contact with spinoffs, startups,

long days in the office, my team has
factory. Depending on the fit, the team been successful in building our open
and interested parties will continue
innovation network, filtering the

and entrepreneurs looking for

discussing and analyzing

ideas that come through it, feeding

funding - were quite helpful. We

the ideas and, ultimately, decide

only the best ones into the company

also spoke with consultants expressly

which ones to keep pursuing and

for development, and communicating

working to facilitate innovation

which ones to throw away. In

our successes. I cannot stress this last

connections between smaller and

secondary assessments the team

point enough: To usher in this kind

larger organizations. Over the years,

will request additional checks and

of transformation, you have to share

we've seen more and more of these

analysis from a technical standpoint

your success stories and grow internal

types of consulting companies spring

and on the financials. Should an

support little by little.

up to address the growing market

idea survive all this filtering and

need - we're not the first doing

the scrutiny, it then becomes a part

Banks - because they're naturally

We can count our successes not only

CTO Straight Talk | 31



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CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2

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