Organizations face many issues in scaling and sustaining successful pilot programs in open innovation. This paper describes a set of recommendations to accelerate these practices in order to develop a Center of Excellence (CoE) that can increase adoption. The experience of the Human Health and Performance Directorate (HH&P) at the NASA Johnson Space Center spanned more than seven years from initially learning about open innovation to the successful establishment of a CoE; this paper provides recommendations on how to decrease this timeline to three to four years. Organizations must anticipate success with initial pilot programs and conduct many future activities in parallel to achieve the recommended timeline. Simultaneously, organizations must develop strategies to overcome the internal resistance and cultural barriers to finding novel ideas and solutions to fully realize the potential of open innovation.
Elizabeth E. Richard is founder and principal of EER Strategies, LLC and a visiting fellow of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. She was previously a senior strategist for NASA’s Human Health and Performance Directorate where she was responsible for strategic planning and partnership development, and was instrumental in the establishment of the NASA Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation. Elizabeth specializes in innovation strategy, collaborative engagement, organizational change management, open innovation and strategic planning in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. She is a frequent speaker and author on the topics of strategy innovation and collaborative engagement, and has designed and led many client workshops. Elizabeth received her bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston.
Dr. Jeffrey R. Davis is the founder & CEO of Exploring 4 Solutions and a Visiting Fellow of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH) at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science. He specializes in organizational change through collaborative and open innovation efforts, and the risk management of complex healthcare systems in space flight and aviation. Jeff’s unique experience and insights across government, academic, corporate and non-profit settings provide a depth of technical knowledge that builds bridges between various disciplines and partners.
Jin H. Paik is the Program Director and Senior Researcher at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH). In his role, he serves as the lab’s general manager. He works to develop the lab’s strategic vision, as well as to direct project and research activities. He oversees the development of open innovation projects through partnerships with NASA, Harvard Medical School, federal government agencies, academic and research institutions, and industry leaders. He advises organizations on innovation strategies with a focus on starting and scaling open innovation practices. He has worked extensively on programs that focus on data science, development and use of artificial intelligence, technology commercialization, and the future of work. Prior to joining the LISH team, he worked at the Harvard Kennedy School and Mathematica Policy Research. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from Harvard University.
Karim R. Lakhani is a Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and one of the Principal Investigators of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH). He specializes in the management of technological innovation in firms and communities. His research is on distributed innovation systems and the movement of innovative activity to the edges of organizations and into communities. He has extensively studied the emergence of open source software communities and their unique innovation and product development strategies. He has also investigated how critical knowledge from outside of the organization can be accessed through innovation contests. Currently, Professor Lakhani is investigating incentives and behavior in contests and the mechanisms behind scientific team formation through field experiments on the Topcoder platform and the Harvard Medical School.