March 31, 2011

Will OI save advanced economies?

On Saturday, I was privileged to be invited to the launch party for Henry Chesbrough’s newest book, Open Services Innovation.

Open Services Innovation: Rethinking Your Business to Grow and Compete in a New EraThe party was at Henry and Katherine Chesbrough’s Bay Area home. The staff of the Center for Open Innovation (at UC Berkeley) were there, as were many other locals that the Chesbrough thought would be interested.

COI† associate director Solomon Darwin introduced me to people as being the kickoff speaker every semester for the COI speaker series. Darwin joked although my definition of open innovation was not the same as Henry’s, it was close enough that Henry was comfortable with my introducing the Berkeley graduate students to the ideas of open innovation every semester.

At an appropriate time, Henry stood up to make a few brief remarks in his library (which reminds me of Baker Library back at Harvard with floor to ceiling books.) He first acknowledged his parents in the audience, Dick & Joyce Chesbrough, to whom he dedicated the book.

He also acknowledged Syed Hasanain, executive VP of Computers & Structures, Inc., who is featured on pp. 145-147 of the book where CSI is Henry’s example of a “specialist” small services firm.

In his remarks, Henry said that his book was not just about open innovation. He also hoped that — in a era of commodity priced-based competition for products — that Open Services Innovation provided an example of how developed economies could create and sustain high paying jobs that wouldn’t go offshore.

As I noted last fall, the idea of Open Services Innovation is about bundling services and products to better meet customer needs. As with any new management proscription, we will need a few years to see how much of a difference the book makes, but obviously it is targeting a pressing need for companies in these advanced economies.

† In Berkeley-speak, the "center" has become the "Program for Open Innovation". I forgot to ask Henry or Solomon what exactly that means.

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