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Open Innovation and Henry Chesbrough

Henry Chesborough’s work on Open Innovation and Open Business Models


I’ve posted a fair bit on this blog on Business Innovation, but somehow the work of Henry Chesbrough has eluded me. Chesborough is a leading proponent of Open Innovation and Open Business Models, as well as Executive Director for the Center of Open Innovation at University of California, Berkeley.

Chesbrough is also the author of 2 important books on these topics: Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating And Profiting from Technology (2005) and Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape (2006).

Both books discuss opening up a company’s research processes to outside parties. So “open” in this case, has a fairly specific meaning.

Chesbrough on Open Innovation

The following video is worth watching for the first 20 minutes or so as an introduction to Chesbrough’s perspective on Open Innovation:

The slides for the first 20 minutes of this presentation can be found in another presentation Chesbrough gave around the same time here.

BTW, I love Chesbrough’s comments at approximate 10:08 into his talk:

Bill Joy … has a wonderful expression … “Not all the smart people in the world work for you“. So if you’re a company looking for ideas to grow, etc. your initial assumption, unlike 50 or 100 years ago, where maybe you did have to really invest to create the ideas … These days there are lots of smart people in lots of places, and that should be the starting point for thinking about your innovation search for new ideas and technologies.

Now you’re still going to need smart people in this world. But part of the job for your smart people in this world is to identify, recognize, and then connect to the other smart people that are out there.

And so one of the points that Open Innovation as a perspective starts with is this open and distributed model of innovation. That instead of thinking like things in a very deep hierarchy, in the sense that Alfred Chandler might argue for say the book he wrote about scale and scope … We’re instead in much more of a network model. And in particular a network model where there’s not necessarily a central hub, but a distributed network. Where much of the activity is going on at the periphery of the network.


Finally, the slide below really captures the essence of the new model of Open Innovation that Chesbrough describes:

Unfortunately, the above visual probably won’t make a lot of sense until you listen to Chesbrough describe it, which he does from 15:28 to approx 21:00 of the video.

Applying Open Innovation and Open Business concepts to News Media

I work for a Canadian news media organization that is about to set out on a journey that I believe will lead to a fundamental transformation in both our business model, and how we do business. I have a colleague that like to use the term Open Newsroom, as a framework for understanding the “newsroom of the future” (which may be virtual, and will certainly be “open”). While the meaning of “open” … more collaborative and participatory … is different than the sense that Chesbrough uses the term, I’m wondering if some of the same principles and thought processes might be applied.

If anyone has any thoughts or comments on the matter I’d be most interested to hear.


  1. carl
    August 3, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Actually Chesbroughs work doesn’t go deep into crowdsourcing. It is a lot about intellectual property and patents, which is mainly a B2B thing. For your new concept I think there is a lot to learn from this approach. Look at istockphoto for example which is above all a business model / licensing innovation. Could this work for newsphoto’s/footage?

    The other area that you could dig deeper into is outside the scope of Chesbrough’s work and more about crowdsourcing. How can you engage people in the process of making, curating and disseminating news? Making: learn from Korean OhMyNews and wikipedia. Very successful is also the trendspotter network from trendwatching.com. Curating/Disseminating: look into Digg.com.

    Good luck!

    • August 3, 2010 at 7:37 am

      Hi Carl. Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I kind of got this sense after watching the video. But at the same time am interesting in seeing how his concepts apply to crowdsourcing models.

      I’m going to have to dig a bit deeper into this one. I’m just starting, really, to think of innovations in news media from a “business model” perspective. And the examples you provide – istockphoto OhMyNews, Wikipedia, and Digg – are excellent examples on innovating on traditional media models.

      What would be “really” cool is to develop a Pattern Language around new media models – in the spirit of Chris Alexander’s and the Gang of Four’s Design Pattern work. I think that’s where I’ll end up going with this, and would love to know of any work anyone else has done.

      Thanks again carl.


  1. August 1, 2010 at 2:12 pm

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