Open Source Innovation & Other Weird Ideas That Work

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay, computer scientist

Self-managed volunteer hackers pool their skills every day on the Internet. Thousands of solo programmers compete to build software that’s bought by companies with whom they have little or no contact. Open sourcing has sparked a new way of innovating, even in other more traditional industries. It involves recruiting ideas from outside the company: from customers, freelance scientists, engineers and designers—in short, a global audience of enthusiastic creators.

Influential figures from important global companies are incorporating open source principles and practices into how they organize R&D and launch new products. Excellent case studies are revealed in William C. Taylor’s and Polly LaBarre’s book, Mavericks at Work. Companies as diverse as GoldCorp, Procter & Gamble, Eli Lilly and the World Bank Development Marketplace use open source principles and the Internet to spark new ideas and solve problems. CEOs and executive teams are tapping into the wisdom of highly intelligent, resourceful professionals interconnected on the web.

When you invite lots of smart people – customers, engineers, rank-and-file enthusiasts – into your organization, it unleashes bottom-up innovation. This is a huge shift for organizations, requiring them to become comfortable with openness, transparency and the loosening of controls

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There are 2 versions of this article: 2000 words, and 1000 words (approximate word counts). The full article covers the following sub-topics:

Rethinking Innovation
Inventing New Ways of Inventing
3 Keys to Innovating
Basic Principles That Squelch Innovation
Exploiting Old Ways, Exploring New Ways
Darwin’s Theory Applied to Bright New Ideas
Seeing Old Things in New Ways
11½ Weird Ideas That Work
Break with the Past
The Creative Attitude
Recommended Reading

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