This is the tale of not only a great book and an innovative case, but also an illustration of how valuable a live conversation (including some work of intelligence ) at weconverse.com is.
Early this year, while researching for the IBC Euroforum gig about wikis, I ran into the newly published book Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. It was not until May that I started to read it, and when I did I was initially not impressed. At first I thought it was just a business summary of the latest buzz. Even so, I immediately learned about some interesting cases. One of those was Innocentive.
As I was extremely busy at that time I did not have time to dig into Innocentive, but found it useful to mention their services at my gig for AstraZeneca. When doing so I labelled the slide ”Proctor & Gamble innovates” and told the AstraZenecans that I really knew little about Innocentive. But, since P&G was a Seeker (Innocentive term for a firm that is looking for solutions to their problems) I found the label kind of OK.
A week later I did a gig at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE). There too I brought up Innocentive. Afterwards Robin Teigland, a researcher working at SSE, were kind enough to inform me about a couple of recent Harvard Business School Press articles about Innocentive. I read them more or less immediately. And a few weeks ago I finished reading Wikinomics. Since then I have had it on my agenda to start a conversatione here about Wikinomics and Innocentive, but work overload did not allow me to go ahead. Vacation is coming up, and perhaps more time would have passed, were it not for Per Hedmans comment today. Thank you Per!
To begin with, Wikinomics is a great book. In my view it summarizes a lot of things I already knew and felt. The summary is useful for me, but perhaps more valuable to those that do not know so much about what I present at my gigs. In addition the book provides a valuable structure of ”Mass Collaboration”, is full of interesting cases, thoughts, as well as useful recommendations. It is beoynd my scope here to review it (as others already have done, e.g. at Amazon). Instead I recommend you to buy and read Wikinomics yourself. And/or you can join the authors playbook (a wiki).
The same thing goes for Innocentive. Go to their web site and you will quickly grab the basic idea (that Seekers post problems and Solvers can get various rewards for finding solutions). At page 13 in Wikinomics the authors introduce Innocentive by saying that Procter & Gamble use their services. Throughout the book there are other illustrative cases around Innocentive. Actually, Tapscott and Williams only mentions in a paragraph in the Ideagoras chapter (p. 98) that Innocentive was founded in 2001 by ”the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly”. Per Hedman, who commented on my AstraZeneca gig, states that he ”was in the boat when it [Innocentive] was built” and that the early user P & G nowadays participate in the development on the same grounds as everybody else. I think Per is an employee of Lilly – hence my ”intelligence” remark above. After all, he commented on the AstraZeneca gig. He could have chosen not to comment at all, or comment at the Lilly gig. I am convinced that Per knows he is doing here, being an experienced ”boat builder”. The embarrasing thing for me is that I knew nothing about Lilly when I met them in April. Shame on me! (Bad excuse: Lilly did not tell me in their brief :-)
What about the HBSP articles then? In A Better Way to R&D Raynor and Panetta (2005) outlines the basic (economic) situation that motivated Innocentive, describes the company’s early years, and points to this kind of ”promising approach” in innovation. Later Lakhani and Jeppesen in Getting Unusual Suspects to Solve R&D Puzzles (May 2007) announce their forethougts after years of in depth research. The latter article is a quick-read two page appetizer that makes me long for more detail.
In sum. Wikinomics is high in my list of book recommendations. Mind though, I still want you to also tap your fingertips into the new tools (e.g. blogging). Innocentive, as a forerunner, is a wonderful example full of cases on how firms reconsiders how innovation, development and organizations are best managed. The key words are participation and conversation. I am very grateful for that weconverse after only six monthes seems to be a part of such activities. Finally, special thanks to Per Hedman for kicking this post into another field than I initially considered. I wonder if AstraZeneca will touch the ball?