I came across an entry on outsourcing innovation over at EDS’ Next Big Thing Blog.
If you want to be innovative as a company, I think you have no choice but to externalize all your innovation processes and outsource some pieces of it. You have to look at innovation as a layer on top of every single process that your company has. Some processes are core competencies for your company and some are not – but they are for others.
If a process is not one of your core processes, outsourcing innovation there should be a no-brainer. And if you happen to innovate yourself in those spaces – try selling the innovation. But don’t let it go to waste as most companies do – or try to build on it yourself.
Even if a process is core to your business, say product innovation for products that you bring to market, you should still try to involve outsiders – customers, partners, suppliers, competitors, etc. – into your innovation processes. And you should constantly be on the lookout for outside innovations that could be bought or innovations from within that may not fit some of your minimum business criteria – i.e., minimum market size – but that might have value for outsiders.