Open Source Innovation

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 01.15.08

One of the most powerful concepts to be explored at the recent World Economic Forum is “open source innovation.” This refers to the creation of a Linux style innovation engine where practitioners, not just subject matter experts, play a leading role in creating the end product.

There are many examples from the consumer world of open source innovation now in action. In the past year, companies as diverse as Nestle and Procter & Gamble have reached out to their consumers to encourage them to share experiences in using their products. Consider the following examples.

The Purina division of Nestle is soliciting “secrets from dog owners” for training their dogs; the input is being used to promote a new product, Second Nature. In just two weeks, the website doglitter.com generated over two million email messages from dog owners fully engaged in sharing problems, secrets and tips in training their dogs.

Procter & Gamble went a step further in their campaign, “Are You Strong Enough to Share Your Secret?” The company asked women to share their “inner most secrets,” via either text messaging or the website shareyoursecret.com. The secrets were time-stamped (with many coming in the wee hours of the morning), and than they were all displayed on the huge message board on the Reuters Building in Times Square. A sample letter was selected and shown on a 30-second commercial. The response: overwhelming buzz in the marketplace, proving consumers are just waiting to be asked for their input.

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