Organizations are also realizing that good ideas and a fresh perspective from outsiders can drive innovation. Outsiders can often offer insights that may have been overlooked, as well as bring entirely new ideas to the table because they are not blinded by corporate procedures.
To harness these outside insights and usher in change, hackathons, accelerators, and open-innovation initiatives have become a part of the modern-day corporate lexicon. Consumer-facing brands like Nike have hosted accelerators to help aspiring start-ups develop their products and services. For instance, Nike’s co-branded Techstars accelerator advanced the capabilities of its Nike+ platform. R/GA is leading the way for the agency-led accelerator model. The Techstars co-branded accelerator program recently graduated 10 emerging start-ups in the field of connected devices.
Brands have also found success by engaging their stakeholders through open-innovation platforms that harness their constituents’ collective ideas. GE issued a challenge to entrepreneurs to redesign parts of an aircraft engine, and the LEGO Cuusoo platform encourages fans to submit ideas for new sets. Similarly, Starbucks customers suggest ways to improve the customer experience on MyStarbucksIdea.com. The community hub has received more than 150,000 ideas from customers in the past five years, leading to the implementation of 277 innovations by May 2013.
Mondelez partnered with consulting firm Contagious to create the Fly Garage, a physical lab where the brand brings in partners, like innovation studio Deep Local, for two-week incubation spurts to work on a specific area of the Mondelez core business. At the end of the two weeks, an idea is brought to life. These open innovation systems enable brands to become platforms for creativity, providing the opportunity to increase consumer loyalty, connect with new partners, and strengthen client relationships by raising the bar on best-in-class work.