Tech Scouting: Key Drivers of Success

Article #12:  Key Drivers of Success

While many factors contribute to the success of open innovation and technology scouting, these are the top twelve emphasized by experts and experienced scouts:

  1. Choose entrepreneurial individuals to be on the scouting team. The ability to understand both technology and marketing helps.
  2. Make sure your innovation strategy is clear before you begin scouting – don’t expect scouting to shape your strategy.
  3. Cast a wide net in your search for opportunities – then winnow down to the best few based on customer need, growth potential and strategic fit.
  4. Move fast to make decisions. Structure the evaluation process for quick early vetting to focus resources on quality ideas.
  5. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a prospective partnership or to kill a project that isn’t adding value.
  6. Craft clear joint agreements using common language for all essential terms; include expectations, goals, roles, contingencies and IP ownership. Remember win-lose is really lose-lose.
  7. Be flexible and make adjustments (a 3 year project doesn’t mean a 3 year budget is assured).
  8. Stay lean, keep a scarcity mentality.
  9. Don’t forget the core in pursuit of next generation.
  10. Create scale and run as fast as you can.
  11. Treat partners and prospective partners openly and honestly.
  12. Invest in the long term.

This article published in conjunction with MRT’s workshop series:
Technology Scouting to Accelerate Innovation – Implementing an External Sourcing Program – check our website for the latest dates and locations of this popular seminar.

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Tech Scouting: Rewards and Incentives

Article #11:  Rewards and Incentives

One of the biggest challenges of open innovation is motivating your technologists to go outside for innovation. Traditionally organizations have rewarded R&D for patents and other internally-focused accomplishments.

For a technology scouting program to succeed, these reward systems must change. This is especially important as teams are often comprised of individuals that have other responsibilities as well.

At the recent Tech Scouting Summit, speakers agreed that rewarding patents is counter-productive unless you also reward going outside. Overall it is more effective to focus incentives and bonuses on revenue and profit.

They also concurred that the role of the scout should be recognized for its strategic importance and as an organizational stepping stone.


  • Kimberly-Clark Health Care offers scouts high visibility and exposure to corporate leaders.
  •  Land O Lakes “Barrier-buster” award is also about visibility — includes a plaque and photo on wall of fame
  •  Unilever has an “OI Award” tied to company objectives
  •  Emerson Therm-o-Disc awards $500 for innovation accomplishments and publicizes in the company newsletter. Continue reading

Open Innovation vs Team Player?

I set up a Google Alert for Open Innovation to try and keep track of OI news and happenings.  Mostly I get articles and blog posts, but sometimes some odd stuff comes through the filter.

In today’s alert I got a link to a Yahoo Answers page where someone has to give a presentation at work and is asking which would be better, a presentation on “open innovation benefits or how to be a good team player?”  I get the feeling that neither choice will have great results, call it a hunch.

If you really want to hear about the inside stories of Open Innovation from the companies with the most experience, the best place of course is at CoDev 2012.