Open Innovation – A New 21st Century Library Skill

Open innovation is essentially “a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, …” according to Wikipedia (who has yet to steer me wrong on this kind of information). Wikis themselves are a good example of open innovation. In a world where most will admit that no one person can do it all, open innovation using tools like crowdsourcing is one way to determine the risky future of your library.

Dr. Henry Chesbrough is Executive Director of the Program in Open Innovation at UC Berkley, leading expert and noted author on Open Innovation. Watch this YouTube presentation and think about your library’s current organizational model and its way of doing business. Think about how this could be relevant to reinventing your library. Think of “patents” as Ranganathan’s Five Laws if it helps to make that mental leap.

Here is another source of putting the Open Innovation concept to work in a business model. Again, think about how this could be relevant to reinventing your library. Who could provide some of these resources for your library – through collaboration and strategic partnerships?
Recognizing the Organizational Challenges to Business Model Innovation

It seems obvious to me that librarianship NEEDS open innovation to get ALL the “smart people” to figure out how libraries can be more relevant to our communities. It also seems to me that ALA could benefit GREATLY from collaborating (a major 21st Century Skill) with a forward thinking group of smart, innovative people like those at InnoCentive “Where the World Innovates”, if ALA was “passionate about solving important problems that really matter”.

InnoCentive is the open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer that enables organizations to solve their key problems by connecting them to diverse sources of innovation including employees, customers, partners, and the world’s largest problem solving marketplace.

Our proven Challenge Driven Innovation methodology, community of millions of problem Solvers, and cloud-based technology platform combine to fundamentally transform the economics of innovation and R&D through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs.

Leading commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations such as Eli Lilly, Life Technologies, NASA,, Popular Science, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Economist partner with InnoCentive to solve problems and innovate faster and more cost effectively than ever before.

They also offer “Risk-free solution finding – Pay for success, not trial and error”. How can that NOT be a Win-Win situation?

OR, ALA might benefit the profession, thousands of libraries and tens of thousands of librarians by contracting with organizations like Information Exchange to get some innovative ideas for libraries in the 21st Century.

Where Creativity is the Currency
Innovation Exchange is an open innovation marketplace for Global 5000 companies and not–for–profit organizations.

Our web-based community is comprised of smart people from the world over. They work on innovation challenges sponsored by organizations which want to increase their innovation capacity beyond their internal research and development teams in order to discover and develop their next important innovation.

The community works on a pay–for–performance model, which allows our customers to tap into an important source of innovation at minimal risk.

Our philosophy
Innovation Exchange believes in the importance of harnessing and managing the creative process to the mutual benefit of the client, the community, and the consumer.

Isn’t it far past time that somebody got innovative and invented the future of the 21st Century Library, rather than waiting for external influences to do it for us? Shouldn’t librarians be leading the way in evolving the 21st Century Library?


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2 responses to “Open Innovation – A New 21st Century Library Skill

  1. Amen, amen Steve. I think we are making some headway, but some of the changes, especially in management structure and delivery of services are rooted in processes already embraced by the for profit sector. It seems like the idea of reinvention provokes so much distress. We nibble about the corners, but cannot quite abandon the status quo. In the mean time thanks for many thoughtful posts. We need your voice to help stimulate action.

    • Unquestionably, change is hard for most people. Venturing into the unknown is even harder for leaders whose necks are on the chopping block. Real change will require bold leaders like yourself and your stakeholders to show the way.
      Thanks. I do what I can to provoke the status quo.

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