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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

According to a press release I received, “LG Mobile Phones (the fastest growing mobile phone brand in North America) is partnering with crowdSPRING (an online marketplace for creative services) and Autodesk (a leader in 2D and 3D design and engineering software) to hold a new competition to define the future of personal mobile communication.”

They were looking for people to “design their vision of the next revolutionary LG mobile phone and compete for more than $80,000 in awards.”  The top prize was $20K.

The competition ended last week, so don’t get your hopes up about winning that money.

But what this shows is that Open Innovation is taking hold in many interesting ways.

Prize-Based Open Innovation, which got its roots in “tangible” challenges (e.g., creating a new chemical compound) has morphed nicely into “softer” (and more subjective) areas like design.

Although, the cost of running this competition is probably far greater than the $80,000 in prizes, I suspect the overall cost dwarfs what would have been spent on in-house designers or consultants.  Regardless, the real value is in the breadth of ideas. Instead of hiring a few designers, they got potentially thousands of designers fighting for the prize money…and the glory of being the winner.  Quite often, the so-called “experts” do not have the best ideas.

Case in point…When I was at (the then) Andersen Consulting, a modified form of Open Innovation was used to develop a new name.  A highly paid advertising/branding company developed a list of 25 potential names.  Other names were submitted by Andersen Consulting employees.  The winning name, Accenture (means “Accent on the Future”) was submitted by an employee – not the branding experts.

In previous blog entries, I wrote about how I used Open Innovation to create my new logo and on the challenges I faced in using Open Innovation.  Open Innovation can be used for anything these days.

As an aside, what I thought was interesting about the LG competition was Autodesk’s participation.  According to the press release, “Autodesk will supply participating designers with a free 15-day trial of SketchBook Pro. Autodesk SketchBook Pro software is a digital sketchpad.” This is a nice way to get designers hooked on their product. Everyone wins in this deal.

I am eager to see the winning designs.

And I am more eager to hear when lessons LG learned by doing the competition. Fortunately, LG has agreed to answer any questions I have (ok, maybe not ANY question).

Therefore, in the name of Open Innovation…

If you have questions you would like me to ask LG, please submit them as a comment on this blog entry.  I will write a future blog entry on the LG competition and lessons learned.

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