The energy around innovation activities is keeping me sane as we get to the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. Web 2.0 infrastructures and Enterprise 2.0 ideals are energizing innovation in a way not possible with just a few people in a garage. Recruiting, Knowledge, Evaluation, Tools, and Market seem to be five foundational ways Web 2.0 supports innovation. Last week I ran across BuildItWith.Me:
Build It With Me is a tool that connects design & development entrepreneurs. It exists to make creating apps easier by connecting you with like-minded designers & developers with the same goal: create cool & useful apps. Getting funding for your app idea is hard and often unrealistic. Most of the time you may just need to connect with a partner who has a skill set you lack to finish off your app. This is where Build It With Me is comes in, connecting you to those people. Skip the funding. Build It With Me will help you bootstrap your ideas into actual apps.
Recruiting Build It With Me supports innovation through both knowledge and labor. You may be able to find someone with a skill you don't have, but need, for your innovation -- or you may be able to find someone to just share the workload. Key is that you find them by skill/interest rather than location or ad hoc connections.
Knowledge But not everyone who helps your with your innovation has to be a member of the team. Communities of practice have always shared knowledge amongst their members. Knowledge sharing is one of their hallmarks. Web 2.0 versions of Communities of Practice increase the reach, speed, and ease of the process. For example, the Experimental Aircraft Association's Home-Builders Corner was part of their 1953 newsletter (pdf). Through the wonders of the Internet I can find not only that 1953 information, but of course have access to the current 24/7 searchable discussion board version of Homebuilders Corner.
Evaluation Not all ideas are good ones. Many innovation support systems allow people to rate the idea, point to where aspects of the project might have already being done, etc. Cisco used a hybrid social networking approach in its I-Prize. The I-Prize was an open innovation prize competition, but the early stages were evaluated by the community. Intuit's Brainstorm tool similarly provides a hybrid approach offering evaluation and more (recruiting, workflow support, etc.) across either an internal audience, or one that crosses organizational boundaries.
Tools In this first example, when I say tools, I mean tools: lasers, saws, 3D printers:
TechShop is a 15,000 square-foot membership-based workshop that provides members with access to tools and equipment, instruction, and a creative and supportive community of like-minded people so you can build the things you have always wanted to make. You can think of TechShop as a health club but with tools and equipment instead of exercise equipment.
Technically the tools themselves aren't Web 2.0, but the Web 2.0 connection is there in that members collaborate and share knowledge via the TechShop Member Forum. Other examples of Web2.0 tools are more straightforward (e.g., open source software), but not as likely to throw off sparks.
Market One of the keys to user innovation (versus closed corporate innovation) is that it be able to compete (Von Hippel, p. 118, free pdf of book). Software/web innovation has it easy in that transportation costs are virtually nil, but all innovations can take advantage of social media to gain immense marketing reach for little to no money. (Perky video on Social Media ROI: Socialnomics.) Recruiting, Knowledge, Evaluation, Tools, and Market. Web 2.0 provides us with collaborative avenues toward innovation.
What have I left out? How about incentive? Are we more likely to participate in innovation activities when we can interact with many more like-minded collaborators - even if we never get to meet? Are we more more or less likely to participate when our actions can perhaps been seen on a global stage? I'm hoping to write a follow-up post on Generating and Maintaining Energy for Open Innovation Platforms and would be happy to collaborate.... ----- For more on Open Innovation - with a review of some of Carliss Baldwin & Eric von Hippel's recent work, please see More proof that sharing is good, von Hippel style.