During the last couple of decades, open innovation has become a way of life at world-class companies. More than three-fourths of firms practice open innovation1, with most increasing their investment. An analysis by consulting firm Deloitte on innovation models in business found that large enterprises pursuing an OI model were three times more likely to achieve late-stage success in product development compared to those relying on a traditional, or closed, innovation model.

But how does one build a culture of innovation in an IT services company?

Well, there are several sources of innovation: ideas from employees, partners and customers – and indeed, from much of the consulting and systems integration work we do for our clients.

I think it's more about culture than anything else. At Jade, our flat organization allows us to actively foster a sense of openness and collaboration among our employees. And yes, we do have a formal structure for open innovation that invites ideas, builds on them, invests and develops them into solutions, and rewards contributors.

In the last two years alone, we have received over a hundred fantastic ideas from our employees around the world. No idea is a bad idea, and the sense of reward starts with the act of sharing an idea. In many cases, idea generators at Jade go on to lead the development of the solution and go to market with it. Whether it’s a VP, Director, project manager or an intern, employee ideas are heard, appreciated and put to use.

One of the byproducts of open innovation at Jade: a sense of ownership and commitment. In fact, this is our main product as far as I’m concerned.

I love Oktoberfest, and for the last few years at Jade, we’ve held our own version of this fun seasonal celebration. We call it IdeaFest, an open innovation “cultural festival” where we gather to celebrate our ideas, present highlights from a year of open innovation, and recognize contributors.

How do you practice open innovation in your organizations? I’d welcome your thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

I can't wait to share with you the story of an idea that came through this open innovation pipeline, made it to the market, and is seeing early success. Stay tuned...

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