Too often, open innovation initiatives at big companies focus on needs – and needs only. You have a specific challenge to solve, you write up rfp’s and you reach out in your network.

Solving problems is an important element of open innovation and it can bring lots of value. However, if you only focus on needs, you miss out on the big potential that comes with also being open to unexpected opportunities.

How innovation happens is changing and there are at least two important things on this. One is that innovation happens in ecosystems where the combination of different resources can result in unexpected opportunites – if you reach out for this and are prepared to deal with it.

The other thing is that innovation is becoming more and more about business models rather than being just about the product, service or technology. You need to have a more holistic approach and think in terms of a bigger picture. You simply need to be open to unexpected opportunities in order to out-innovate your competitors whether they are other big companies or smaller companies backed by venture capitalists.

So to my dear friends at corporate innovation teams, go beyond rfp’s and needs and open up your eyes and as well as your processes for unexpected opportunities.

Just a reminder to all of us : – )

(Original publication)

 Stefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor. His focus on the topics of open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship has propelled him into being a trusted advisor to many large corporations. He believes open innovation requires a global perspective and he has given talks and worked with companies on open innovation in Europe, South America, the U.S. and Asia.

Stefan Lindegaard has written three books: Social Media for Corporate Innovators and Entrepreneurs: Add Power to Your Innovation Efforts (August 2012), Making Open Innovation Work (Oct 2011) and The Open Innovation Revolution (May 2010). His blog is a globally recognized destination on open innovation. You can read further at