yet2 Insights: Innovation Fatigue

Keeping Open Innovation Relevant and Impactful

Even before the popularization of the term “Open Innovation” (OI) in 2003, companies have been striving to build the best framework for harnessing external innovation; but yet2 is seeing a second phenomenon: Innovation Fatigue. Innovation Fatigue can be defined broadly as a negative impression of OI caused by the overuse of the term, poorly-executed initiatives, internal misalignment and innovation for the sake of innovation. As Innovation Fatigue spreads through a company, the excitement that should accompany step-change opportunities ebbs under the pressure of overcoming unnecessary hurdles. yet2 proposes a proper foundation for new OI initiatives that can prevent the slide into Innovation Fatigue, and fortunately, a well-run, productive OI initiative can breathe new life into a tired OI effort.

Across companies of all sizes, a successful OI effort must be supported by an engaged project team and budget. Also necessary are strong business case building, iteration, interaction with the outside opportunity owner, validation, and IP evaluation. Unfortunately, generating a list of external opportunities is often the easiest part. It is often much simpler to engage internal stakeholders for a project kickoff than for the follow-up required to execute a deal. Add in repeated exposure to innovation initiatives that are not driven by company purpose, lack of demonstrable successes, and busy schedules, and Innovation Fatigue inevitably sets in.

Since 1999, yet2 has worked with companies at every stage of their OI journey, from those with a mature, sophisticated framework to those just beginning their efforts.  yet2 understands that companies need both top management support and individual support for any OI effort to succeed. The best way to rout Innovation Fatigue is to arm OI project teams with the data, prioritization, and justification they need to bring colleagues, marketing, and budget along on the OI journey. yet2 also recognizes the importance of engaging internal technical and commercial communities to encourage collaborative fostering of innovation opportunities.  A technically and commercially astute yet2 project team bridges the divide between R&D and business development by understanding and satisfying the needs of both sets of stakeholders.

Comparative Value Proposition

The comparative value proposition (CVP) is a powerful tool for preventing or addressing Innovation Fatigue.  yet2 defines a CVP as good, quantitative data showing significant cost and/or performance advantage versus a specific incumbent and other new technologies in a specific application. A CVP requires an understanding of the technology landscape, familiarity with incumbents and an in-depth understanding of the challenges or product/process horizons for a particular industry. Strong CVPs allow an OI team and business unit team to focus on the most valuable opportunities with a clear rationale for the benefit of implementation. The CVP combats Innovation Fatigue by eliminating distraction from unsubstantiated or unworthy opportunities and focusing effort on initiatives that will produce results.

Innovation Fatigue is a serious impediment to productive Open Innovation programs, but it need not be a permanent condition. Companies suffering from Innovation Fatigue can make great strides by aligning OI missions with company goals to ensure impactful projects and solutions are advanced and by providing meaningful OI metrics to motivate employees.  yet2 can also help by streamlining the parts of the innovation process that pose the greatest hurdles and demotivate most: providing a vetted list of opportunities with clear CVPs, prioritizing opportunities, building business cases and facilitating interactions between OI teams and external solution providers.  By combining these two approaches, companies can avoid the loss of productivity associated with
Innovation Fatigue.