The following is an excerpt from an article in the Wharton Magazine’s Winter 2014 issue. Text by Ken Stier, illustrations by Harry Campbell.
When NASA had its R&D budget slashed, it came to its partner, the Mack Institute, to assist it in crowdsourcing many of its most pressing problems. Solutions abounded, and from unlikely places. The best idea for preserving food in space came from someone outside the food industry; a better predictive tool for solar flares came from a retired radio frequency engineer who exceeded the parameters without even having the basic datasets.
When Procter & Gamble was developing its pathbreaking Connect+Develop model to innovation, a P&G executive presented the basic approach at a Mack Institute conference. Other Mack industry partners got an early look at a powerful open innovation model and explored its implications before Connect+Develop received wide attention in the business press. Working together with P&G, the Mack Institute then launched an open innovation research initiative to better understand the pros and cons of looking for innovation ideas beyond a company’s own boundaries and industry. By now, Connect+Develop has generated more than 2,000 agreements with P&G’s “innovation partners” and has been responsible for 42 percent of the new products used for making inroads in high-growth emerging markets.