Collaborative networks and open innovation

100 Open Startups
4 min readJan 28, 2023

More than receiving feedback from consumers and other people, several corporations have demonstrated success in interacting with collaborative networks and open innovation.

Open innovation is a fundamental element for competitiveness and, consequently, for the survival of corporations, which face different types of challenges, such as: introducing innovative products, services and ideas in a world that is changing at an ever-increasing speed.

This need for innovation also poses the challenge of generating value more quickly in order to take advantage of market opportunities. The problem is that, sometimes, this speed ends up blinding corporations as to certain market demands that would require a differentiated creation process. Thus, a limitation is imposed on the emergence of disruptive innovation — one that, more than improving existing products or processes, brings something totally new to the market, and may even change the direction of an industry. As a consequence, we have a high degree of incremental innovation , whose discreet results feed this vicious cycle.

In this context, more than receiving feedback from consumers and other people, several corporations have demonstrated success in interacting with collaborative networks in the open innovation process. In a first level of maturity, corporations are looking, in idea programs, to increase the spectrum of possibilities for demands and technical solutions.

How to create an open innovation collaborative network

Although there are social networks around brands, products and services, these are not directed around companies’ innovation challenges. To do so, it is necessary to activate and moderate a collaborative network, which necessarily needs to contain qualified people and leaders who are committed to addressing open innovation in a broad, decentralized way.

It is important for the corporation to build a strong innovation culture . Through it, people who are part of this corporation will be able to bring innovative ideas, adding value from the relationship with external agents, such as startups.

When the corporation has teams and people dedicated to open innovation processes, a massive amount of new people, from the internal and external spheres, in addition to ideas and interactions, will emerge. At this point, it is necessary to develop collaborative processes, creation methods, well-established and communicated rules and regulations, and a virtual platform that allows collaboration between network and corporate participants.

Ideas and challenges programs are especially interesting when you want a quick engagement around a specific theme , activating the creativity of the participants of the collaborative network. The challenge is the motivating element that also serves to mobilize people who would not necessarily be involved in solving a problem around a subject of common interest. Once the network is established, the participants work with contributions of ideas, strategies or whatever the postulated problem may be, in favor of the corporation’s challenges.

Building a program of ideas and challenges

The construction of a program of ideas and challenges goes through two structuring phases: the network and the processes . When structuring the network, the public of interest is identified, the motivators for network engagement are analyzed, in addition to the study of reward and award models. It is important that the network is qualified at this point: different audiences require personalized approaches .

When structuring processes, the divergent stages (creation of ideas) and convergent stages (choice of the best ideas) are elaborated, and forms of self-regulation of the process are devised. It is also at this stage that internal and external participants are involved and criteria for decision-making are defined.

When activating the network , it is important that employees participate and that effective and face-to-face dissemination strategies are adopted, even if the collaborative platform is virtual.

The moderation and animation of the network are essential factors for the execution to reach the proposed objectives. There must be moderators who give tips and suggestions, guide and correct any errors.

Also, for the entire process to be leveraged, the method and tools used must allow the structured process to be systematized, in a flexible and agile manner. The deployment of a virtual platform should essentially allow for collaboration at any time, from anywhere, to capture ideas, evaluation by the community and judges, and a set of metrics to evaluate production and provide data for management. The entire process ends with the review and discussion of lessons learned.

Collaborative platforms allow companies to use a network to co-create , bring information and values ​​from outside so that products advance in line with consumer demands. By migrating from a way of working structured in departments to one based on collaboration networks, the corporation has the possibility of entering the market in a modern and competitive way.

The ideas and challenges program represents a culture shift in which the corporation’s role is to discover the values ​​that exist in collaborative networks, and to orchestrate innovation with internal resources. However, this process is not necessarily new. The culture of collaboration networks already exists, it is up to corporations to decide whether or not to join.