Open Innovation, Empowerment and Exploitation

Jonathan sent me the link to the below presentation this morning.  I was intrigued by slide number 29, which suggests that Open Innovation (in the case of the presentation, a hybrid approach using crowdsourcing and co-creation) is a “thin line between empowerment and exploitation.”

I started thinking about Jonathan’s Social Innovation in Plain English video that ends with the benefits a person could reap for participating in such a project:

  • New skills
  • PR
  • New opportunities
  • Satisfaction
  • Listened to
  • Experience
  • Networking
  • Fun
  • Geeky
  • Business development

And then I started pondering why I, Kate, would take the time, thought and energy to participate?

Is this just a reflection of the freemium business model?  You give, and then later, maybe you’ll get paid to give more?

Will the future entail us having to roll up our sleeves and transpire a little to be accepted into the “it” networks?  You know, the ones actually doing something other than networking.

Or are we talking altruism?  I think it’s naïve to think people will lend their time and talent for free.  Unless it’s for a NGO.

How will this crowdsourcing, social innovation, co-create, open collaboration thing REALLY work . . . for the individuals?



  • The presentation above was given during an Open Source Hardware Conference in the UK where amongst others Riversimple and c,mm,n were present. It seems like they’ve been thinking hard about managing communities: from patents, converging bottom-up & top-down approaches, IT platforms, we need to get in there and do some work with them.

  • Kate, take a look at Waze, a social GPS. Created from scratch by users who spend their days (and nights) updating maps all around the world.

    The project started a couple of years, and is now widely spread in the US, UK and Israel. Waze just started in Spain, Italy and France.

    This is a pure social innovation. There’s no NGO there, but the damn feeling that “we” should stop paying GPS software and maps from one editor to the other, and start creating a social, web 2.0 GPS navigation software.

    Economy and passion, when mixed together, can justify such social innovation. But it’s a long way till you find the right formula.

  • Thanks Hervé. I’d not heard of Waze before. An interesting project for sure!

    You bring up the perspective of people contributing time and talent to build what they need instead of buying it from somewhere else. I like that. Reminds me of barn raisings, communities coming together to help each other out, building what they need together instead of hiring out the work.

  • Herve

    Build what you need: that’s exactly the point. Innovation is deeply connected to economics. If you can build it, wether alone or in a collaborative way, why pay for it?