We see BIG challenges and reimagine new solutions
June 5, 2017 | Mike Dieckmann, Associate Vice President, Division of Research & Strategic Innovation
One of the central tenets of design thinking - often used to drive innovation - is a focus on the client or customer. For example, the IDEA method we use at the UWF Innovation Institute places the customer at the center of all aspects of the design process, from identification of the problem space through exploration of alternatives and the evaluation of potential solutions. A natural evolution of this process is to broaden the definition of both “customer” and “design team” to include individuals not traditionally within that boundary - in other words, to crowdsource innovation. That’s where the idea of open innovation, and platforms to support open innovation, come into play.
As a formal concept, open innovation is usually credited to Henry Chesbrough, adjunct professor and faculty director of the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation at the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. In his 2005 book Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology, Chesbrough proposed that organizations must look beyond their boundaries to involve outsiders - and even potential competitors - in the innovation process. Authors such as Schilling and Phelps further refined the idea of “interfirm collaboration networks” as a necessary tool for organizations to maintain innovation momentum and competitive edge.
A decade later, design thinking leaders have fully embraced the idea that addressing tough problems often requires collaboration at scale: the active involvement of extensive groups of idea-generators, sifters, and refiners. A design challenge may benefit from the involvement of large communities of employees, customers, or general citizens in the processes of framing the problem, generating ideas, refining ideas, and evaluating solutions. A growing collection of open innovation software platforms now provides Internet-based tools for defining and managing community-based collaborative innovation, where the community can be defined as narrowly or broadly as desired.
Most of these platforms support the basic activities of hosting a design challenge and providing social media tools to allow broad participation in the challenge. Others go farther, allowing crowdsourced collaborators to self-organize into teams and create more refined shared workspaces. Many platforms support developing prototypes and refining them within the system. Some provide analytics, and the more extensive platforms support rigorous analysis of business factors such as implementation cost and projected revenues.
Most existing comparisons of these open innovation platforms are published by the vendors themselves, with the expected slant toward their own platforms’ strengths. At the IT Innovation Lab, we are currently evaluating these platforms for potential use by the University of West Florida’s Division of Research and Strategic Innovation. When our study is complete, we intend to make available our own comparative analysis of these systems. If you wish to recommend a platform to our attention, are a vendor desiring to have your platform included in our study, or wish to receive the results of our comparative research, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Schilling, M., & Phelps, C. (2007). Interfirm Collaboration Networks: The Impact of Large-Scale Network Structure on Firm Innovation. Management Science, 53(7), 1113-1126.
Our colleagues at the UWF Innovation Institute often contribute to academic journals to share the work of the Institute and our partners. Dr. Robin Colson, Director, Research and Evaluation, recently contributed an article on accelerated learning to the EDUCAUSE Review. This article discusses the importance of acceleration for adult students and highlights the acceleration options offered by Complete Florida partner institutions.
I recently read, MOOCs, High Technology, & Higher Learning, by Robert Rhoads (2015). The book explains the cultural, social, and economic motivations that spurred the MOOC (Massive, Open, Online Course) movement and provides an overview of the various and diverse perspectives on the value and role of MOOCs (Rhoads, 2015) going on today. The book also provides a glimpse into the future of MOOCs.
Many innovation methods adopt, at least implicitly, a product mindset. Product thinking is core to a focus on the customer (or client, end user, or other term of choice for those your organization serves), whether we describe our intended outcome as a product, service, or experience.
One of the central tenets of design thinking - often used to drive innovation - is a focus on the client or customer. For example, the IDEA method we use at the UWF Innovation Institute places the customer at the center of all aspects of the design process, from identification of the problem space through exploration of alternatives and the evaluation of potential solutions.
Distance learning continues to grow rapidly in higher education and in corporate training environments. Colleges and universities continue to experience increasing online course enrollments, even in the face of declining overall campus enrollments