Collaborating with external talent to innovate: Insights from InnoSchool — After
This blog post is part of a series about collaborating with external talent in Open Innovation programs.
The final dimension in this series on how to collaborate with external talent in Open Innovation programs addresses the “so, what?” after the program ends. This is a very delicate phase, which has to be handled correctly in order to guarantee that the program meets the expectations of company partners and participants. Timing is fundamental. Providing future prospects helps to keep external talent engaged until the end of the program and to avoid that they are drawn into job-search. Mid-ways or the last third into the program is a fair timing to start preparing the follow-up.
Provide pathways for continuation
Company partners should discuss different follow-up options before the program ends. The discussion should be extended to involve program managers and teams for a second time. On one side, consulting with program managers may offer a better grasp on the behavioral characteristics of the participants. On the other side, participants should be given the opportunity to provide an opinion about the next steps of the project and where he or she would see a fit. The motivation of the participants could be assessed in the form of an application letter to provide a conversation starter. The main typologies of follow-up options include:
- Company builder program: Company builder programs are longer horizon programs meant to support companies in the set-up of a corporate startup. The most straightforward continuation option for short term open innovation programs, such as InnoSchool, would be to engage in a company builder program. In a company builder program, MVPs are brought to market and a separate legal entity is created. It is advisable to involve at least one external participant per type of background, in order to ensure continuity between the two programs.
- Small scale pilot project: When the outcomes of an open innovation program seem uncertain, a small-scale follow-up pilot project may be considered. With this model, one internal or external participant to the open innovation program may become responsible to validate the idea using a limited budget. The objective should be deciding if to spin in, spin out or stop the project in a timespan of six months to one year.
- Employment: In the absence of validation of ideas, company partners may use the open innovation program as a recruitment tool. Participants of the program will have enhanced their skills and become familiar with the company and its challenges. This lowers the risk of mistakes in hiring. External talent who demonstrated commitment, competence, and a good fit with the company may be deployed in new projects as regular employees.