Open Innovation: The View from CoDev 2010 in Scottsdale, Arizona


I just finished three action-packed days at the CoDev 2010 conference, an international conference on open innovation chaired by Cheryl Perkins, CEO of Innovationedge and thought leader in open innovation (and yes, my boss!). Over 200 attendees gathered to learn and share the latest in collaboration for successful innovation. Outstanding speakers discussed their success stories in bringing companies forward in open innovation, and experienced panelists and seminar instructors provided additional perspectives.

The initial keynote speech from Peter Erickson, Senior Vice President of General Mills, set the stage for the conference, inspiring us with what can be achieved in a short time when a corporation is committed to strengthening innovation. He described their steps to implement processes and structures for open innovation, making it a basic part of how they develop new products. They are now able to bring new products to the market more successfully and in less time, with dramatic gains for their open innovation work. Similar stories were told by Procter & Gamble (Chris Thoen and also Kim Zerby), Unilever (Jon Hague), Kraft Foods (Todd Abraham), Alberto Culver (Carlos Linares), and Microsoft (Cliff Reeves), all offering inspiring perspectives of how openness and collaboration have transformed the companies and made them more successful. P&G, for example, now has over 50% of their new products due at least in part to successful collaborative efforts with outside groups. And their Connect & Develop portal for unsolicited submissions has shown a surprisingly high success rate, with about 8% of the submitted concepts becoming part of active projects. In fact, every business unit has active projects that include external concepts that began as unsolicited submissions. P&G provides compelling evidence for the business success that can come from establishing oneself as a good partner for collaboration and from aggressively pursuing open innovation. The Microsoft story also shows dramatic potential and progress coming from their relatively recent cultural revolution that has transformed Microsoft.

I also enjoyed the presentation by Todd Abraham of Kraft Food, who showed the results of their pervasive efforts to adopt open innovation. Another important presentation was given by Fabienne Jacquet of Colgate-Palmolive, where the formal effort to pursue aggressive open innovation only began in 2007, but has already demonstrated significant success as outside partners recognize Colgate as a partner who treats entrepreneurs like humans. Part of their success has come from helping internal scientists become closer to the market and to the consumers, something we strongly advocate in Conquering Innovation Fatigue. Colgate is building a healthy ecosystem for innovation.

Open innovation isn’t just for giants like Microsoft, Procter, or Kraft. Mike Irwin of WD-40 talked about their journey and growing commitment to open innovation to develop stronger brands and new partnerships. WD-40 has been strengthening their internal culture to find new collaborative approaches for growth. They are putting some serious effort into defining the right partnerships for their future.

I also enjoyed learning from experts who shared perspectives from universities and national labs.

Cheryl Perkins and I did a daylong pre-conference workshop on scenario planning for innovation, with emphasis on disruptive innovation, alliances, intellectual asset strategy, metrics for success, and secrets to creating the culture, tools, and processes needed for success. Case studies and a variety of exercises kept it lively and fun, thanks to the tremendous group of participants we had. I can provide more information about the content if you’re interested. One of my favorite parts was the team exercise we did with a simulated panel of General Motors leaders listening to pitches crafted by three teams regarding a collaborative opportunity. Really enjoyed learning from the different approaches the teams took and the responses of the GM panel as they considered the opportunity.

I can’t wait for next year. Learned so much and met such interesting and capable people. A well organized conference through and through.

Categories : open innovation


  1. Jeff,

    Viewing from afar, Switzerland, you got a good sense of the most positive ‘buzz’ that came out of the conference. It was the right theme for the appropriate time- so you hit it on the button. The tweets came thick and fast, often repeats on the same hash but clearly emphasising the moments of ‘impression’. Little info was passed over on your & Cheryl’s workshop, obviously no twitters allow. It would be good to hear something of the conference organizers impressions as the work that clearly went in has given this ‘buzz’ but that perspective should be aired, through here or the tweet hash as a sum up.

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