Open Innovation is a journey.
The main roadblocks are internal. Particularly in the early days of the journey, every Open Innovation Unit suffers a sort of “liability of newness”. They don’t have a track record of success stories. Then they have neither attention nor reputation. The top-level buy-in is often limited. The only function that is interested at them is Communication and PR (since startups are a cool topic and can get some press or media coverage).
“When we started we focused on quick wins. We took whatever we got.”
said Orr Hameiri, Global Tech Innovation Direct at Procter & Gamble Israel during the last Corporate Startup Stars Roundtable organized by Mind the Bridge in Tel Aviv.
“An example? A startup that created automated subtitles for commercials in every language. This was not a big project, with no substantial impact and not huge amount of savings. But this startup was able to provide a clear value to the Business Units. The project was appreciated. The BUs started talking about us”.
Getting quick wins should the first goal of a Venture Client unit. Only after you have built your internal reputation, you can raise the bar both in terms of (innovation) impact and (required) commitment from the business.
Today, 6 years later, the P&G Innovation team is in the position to set conditions while dealing with the Business Units. Orr referred to 5 requirements each BU needs to meet before approaching the Tech Team with a Challenge and asking them to engage with startups.
- Request coming from the VP
- Budget allocated for the POC
- Resources (people) to run the POC
- Pre-defined KPIs for measuring the success of the pilot
- Budget for scaling the pilot (if successful)
In a nutshell, you don’t want to involve startups if the Business Units are not committed to work with them either during the pilot (with proper resources, both financial and human) and after the pilot (in case the POC meets the goals).
“We don’t want to have a POC that works and the BU that might say: “let’s see, maybe next year”. If a startup was supposed to do 2x and delivered, then we move into industrialization“.