Henry Chesbrough on “Open Innovation Results: Going Beyond the Hype and Getting Down to Business””

Henry Chesbrough on “Open Innovation Results: Going Beyond the Hype and Getting Down to Business””


We have in Silicon Valley this
well-known meme that says technology is not only improving but it’s improving at
an accelerating rate and this is sometimes termed exponential technology.
If you think about what that means it suggests that we should be in an era of
abundance but our economic productivity does not seem to be accelerating, and in
fact if you look at the data the rate of growth is declining rather than going up.
So that’s the paradox; technology is advancing at an accelerating rate and
our economic productivity isn’t. If open innovation is so great why aren’t we
seeing improvements in economic productivity. So this is the motivation
for this new book is to take that question head-on and then try to develop
some answers. In this book I try to make a strong case for going further to
thinking not only about the generation of these ideas but how they actually
diffuse throughout the organization throughout the society and then
ultimately get absorbed and put to work and it’s only when we complete all three
of these steps that we’re really going to see results from innovation in
general and open innovation in particular. The message of this book is
to invest in the whole innovation infrastructure so it isn’t enough just
to pump more money into our labs to generate technology we also need to
disseminate this knowledge very very widely, so that could be through open
source tools, that could be through intellectual commons, it could be through
more universities graduating more students who then go out in the world to
take this knowledge with them. And then there’s the absorption that involves not
only training and education but skills and skills development whether that’s
coding for software or statistics. So all of this; the generation, the dissemination,
and the absorption, are necessary to get our economic productivity growth back to
where it used to be. We do have in our own history the experience of how to
invest in our infrastructure for innovation and to create a better future
for ourselves. Unfortunately we’ve lost that formula in the last three decades
and part of the message of my book is to get back to what we were doing before.

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