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Working Together.

“Open Up! How Open Innovation Drives the New Win-Win Economy”

BBJ Open Innovation event promotes collaboration to achieve success.

June 28, 2013

On June 25, 2013, Boston Business Journal hosted “Open Up! How Open Innovation Drives the New Win-Win Economy,” which that focused on bridging the gap between innovation and commercialization. MTC was there to get in on the action.

Lital Asher-Dotan, the main speaker for the event, is the Open Innovation Leader Global Business Development at Procter & Gamble. Her talk centered around “open innovation,” which centers around using internal and external ideas, sources and partners, to accelerate development and expansion.


Here are the major insights we took from this event:

Collaboration is Key.

Proctor & Gamble is one of the world’s largest, oldest and most successful corporations. But, it’s not perfect. This is something every company must recognize about itself in order to succeed.

“Connect & Develop” is P&G’s open innovation program. C&D aims to combat stagnation and shortcomings by working with companies, individuals, competitors, experts and “anyone who has the right idea.” Applicants submit ideas, and those who are chosen enter a collaboration with P&G.

P&G seeks to form partnerships, and more importantly, relationships. Partnerships are based on the circumstances of the project, and vary in terms of size, time and cost. A “win-win-win” mindset means that everyone involved—P&G, the new partner, and the eventual customer—benefit in some way.

Connect & Develop has resulted in popular new products and ideas. Some examples include:

  • Olay Regenerist skincare products
  • Duracell Powermat chargers
  • Febreze
  • Swiffer Dusters


Innovation’s focus on Improvement vs Breakthrough.

In a saturated market, it’s nearly impossible to create something truly “new.”  As a result, focus has shifted to making products more effective, relevant and sustainable.

But, when an exclusive group is fully responsible for a product’s development, there exists a risk of stagnation and failure to recognize opportunity. Open innovation seeks to combat this by embracing the possibility that someone else may have a beneficial idea, material or perspective that cannot be provided by someone within the organization.

In today’s market, it’s a serious challenge to stand out from the rest. Merging internal and external viewpoints, philosophies and procedures helps to ensure creativity and efficiency.


Big & Small businesses each have their strengths.

A common misconception is that big businesses have all the advantages in the market. And while this is true in many cases, Lital repeatedly stated that both large and small organizations bring important elements to the table. This is why partnerships between them can prove so fruitful.

She asserted that smaller companies are smart and agile; as a result, they can develop and introduce products to market rapidly. In many cases, small organizations face less restrictions and red tape, and report to a less complex chain of command. Small businesses operate with a sense of independence and a thirst for success, that, when paired with the resources of large companies, can be explosive.

Larger corporations possess resources and have insight and access that is likely impossible for small businesses to gather. Larger corporations may have more sophisticated facilities and materials. They usually employ large departments, such as marketing and research teams, that small companies could not afford. Corporations can help small companies succeed through advertising, research and access to financial and material resources.

It is important to recognize the advantages of other companies, and to embrace differences, as this will foster innovative growth.


 “Smart & Responsive” is the way to go.

It seems that the whole world is “getting smart.” Lital highlighted the need for more intelligent products, ones that respond to human biology specifically. However, this message rings true for just about any industry, as the demand for products catered to individual needs is only growing.


“Big Data” reigns supreme.

With all the buzz about “Big Data” in recent events, this last point comes as no surprise. She highlighted two areas of exploration through use of data:

  • Real-time: Using the most current data helps to understand customers’ needs and thoughts as they happen. This helps companies meet needs quickly.
  • Root-cause: Focusing on the core of emotions, preferences and problems enables companies to tackle any issue in the most meaningful, effective way. Modifying the root saves time and money because it directly addresses the problem, and not something else.


One of Lital’s quotes really stood out: “Innovation is not a thing, but a living process.” As the world constantly and rapidly changes, so do we. Open innovation encourages companies to look at a solution from multiple standpoints, and to involve outside sources when seeking improvement. 

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