Thursday, June 19, 2014

What a fantastic experience

On Thursday, 12 June, 2014, the InCo Experiential Conference was held in Ljubljana, presenting 12 approaches under the common title From Inspiration To Innovation. The event was held at Kulturni spomenik D125 by Vibacom d.o.o., initiator of coordinator of the InCo Movement For an Innovative Breakthrough of Slovenia in cooperation with the Managers' Association of Slovenia, Slovenian Association of Facilitators, Architecture Centre and expert groups and individual experts. The Conference provided its participants with a unique experience of a systemic approach to a comprehensive innovation process through 12 different methods, which represent a2 future for learning and competence acquiring methods.

Photo: Physical space and atmosphere management Raphael Duret-Nauche
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
At the event, the participants were able to experience the complete innovation process. Throughout the various phases of the innovation process (Idea, Invention, Innovation) they were using different methods, tools, models and approaches for the successful implementation of each phase and were exchanging experiences and expanding their horizons in finding new opportunities. In addition to Slovenian participants, the Conference was also attended by representatives of the Beyond Leadership organisation from Austria and Germany.

Violeta Bulc, initiator and coordinator of the Conference, General Manager of Vibacom d.o.o.: “From the beginning, the Conference was infused with an exceptional anticipation of exploration, wonder and involvement. This was actually our primary aim - to motivate all Conference participants to feel the power of creation with the support of the environment around them, and also with the methods and people at the Conference, for both those conducting it and the members of the teams. The first impressions collated at the conclusion of the first part of the Conference indicated a willingness to participate; and focused the attention of all participants, indicateing what the future for learning and competence acquiring methods could be. This also made us realise the advantages of the smallness of the Slovenian business environment – the fact that we all know each other, which enables us to organise ourselves very quickly. I sincerely hope we will be able to develop this into a service that we can market in the international arena and thus promote the internationalisation of Slovenian service industry."

Photo: Model of Conference
Source: Vibacom
Below are a few highlights from the Conference in the form of statements from some of the participants and organisers. The full report on the Conference, accompanied by all impressions, experiences and new discoveries, will be available before autumn.

Introduction to the Conference at the central square


 
VIDEO 1: Violeta Bulc, initiator and coordinator of the Conference, General Manager of Vibacom d.o.o.:
"Initially, the participants were divided into nine groups with nine team members each; each of the nodes of the three key phases of the process was moderated by a professional moderator, and within each of the nodes the participants were acquainted with three methods."



 
VIDEO 2:  Kaja Rangus, Vibacom, d.o.o., Conference coordinator:
"The key aim of the Conference with respect to open innovation is to enable participants to cooperate, communicate, exchange knowledge and ideas and jointly create a solution instead of working each in their own corner, hidden288 from others; they have a common goal and they want to achieve the best result possible."


Tatjana Fink, Conference participant: "I want to express my congratulations for the idea and the organisation of this Conference to its creators, organisers and everyone involved in its implementation. The greatest value of what we've learned here is in no less than twelve methods of innovation that we were introduced to and able to compare, assessing their applicability in the process from idea to market placement. The experience of being able to test these methods in a practical exercise was priceless."

Photo: Introductory meeting of organizers
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Tičo Zupančič, President of Beyond Leadership for Slovenia, moderator of the 'The Power of Connecting' method for designing a conceptual solution: “I am delighted with the exceptionally high level at which a group of Slovenian organisers were able to create this globally unique event that may represent a model for the future. If we were able to inspire and advise Robin Hood on how to shape his future society, why couldn't we show the way to Robin Hoods of the 21st century. Even the title itself – 'Experiential Conference – From Inspiration to Innovation' is remarkable. It was just as advertised – an incredible experience of a conference. A source of inspiration for all participants; this Conference is a global innovation. In the name of Beyond Leadership I can only say: "It's a privilege we were able to contribute."


 
VIDEO 3: Marjeta Novak, CPF, moderator of the IDEA node, President of the Slovenian Association of Facilitators
"What I found particularly stimulating here was that the activities were based on a game. This playful element, which is something we usually try to weave into our moderated process, albeit in a more subdued degree to help participants relax and be more open to new areas of possibility, was the central focus of this conference and I felt that people were more lively than usual, more receptive to new ideas, more open, more willing to participate; this was the true added value of this conference."


Understanding the needs and the value created for the market (innovation)
The central aim of the Market Manifestation phase was to enable the shaping of an innovative idea based on market needs and behaviours. The key question the participants needed to answer in this node was: Who is our client?

Photo: Implementation of technique "Customer Segmentation in Innovation
Development According to the MABS Method"
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

Mojca Štepic, Heart of Slovenia Development Centre, d. o. o., moderator of the "Customer Segmentation in Innovation Development According to the MABS Method": “This InCo Conference was a great challenge, both for those organising and conducting it as well as its participants. This very first attempt of applying gamification to business challenges within the framework of a conference proved to be a fascinating, pleasant and relaxed experience that was also – and most importantly – useful and effective. Finally, we were able to attend a conference that was not tedious, a conference stimulating thought and producing results that will actually be useful following its conclusion."

Photo:  Implementation of technique "Running Lean: customer interviews"
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

 
VIDEO 4: Nastja Mulej, deBono.si, moderator of the 'Lateral Thinking in Designing a Conceptual Solution' method
"I would recommend these methods to everyone, even myself – my deepest regret here at this Conference is that I repeated my method three times, meanwhile missing out on learning about the other methods and tools."


Design of a conceptual solution (idea)

Photo: Catering for lunch
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
The central aim of the 'Design of a Conceptual Solution' phase was to analyse and examine our inspiration with the use of various methods and find the possible courses for developing our ideas (in our case, this was a business model – a strategic plan for Robin Hood). The key question the participants needed to answer in this node was: What is the purpose of the formation of our team? What is the aim of our solution?

Photo: Souvenir of the Conference
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

Sonja Klopčič, Conference participant: "What delighted me the most was how much good will, dedication and joint creativity was invested into organising this event. The combination of organisers' synchronised work, moderator nodes, and intuition and energy stimulation, invisible at first glance, magnificently rounded this event. The participants were able to work together in an open and creative environment and were provided with an opportunity to experience various potential-releasing methods, as well as concrete methods of the individual steps of the innovation process. Simultaneously, a team was forming, at first comprised of randomly selected members, then developing its own dynamics; we were able to observe and encompass the dynamics of the group as well as the evolution of the game, experience the effects of changes in the organisation of the space to improve personal well-being, cooperation, etc. The experience of this complexity was wonderful. This combination of learning and co-creating was a true quantum leap." 
 
Photo: Participant of the Conference Sonja Klopčič
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

Designing the prototype (invention)

The central aim of the Prototype (Invention) phase was to break down the idea into manageable basic building blocks and verify whether our approach to the challenge (business model) worked at all. Since we were at a conference and could not try out an actual test offer in the field we used simulation tools with which we designed a business model and checked whether it was visually/physically achievable (whether or not all the necessary elements were connected, whether their relationships were suitable, etc.). The key question the participants needed to answer in this node was: Can this problem be solved? Is our idea implementable? 

Photo: Implementation of technique "U Method – Sculptures"
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

Vesna Kovačič, SrCi Institute Maribor, moderator of the U Method for designing a prototype: "To me, this Experiential Conference represented an experience of spontaneous and playful learning. The U Method returns the focus back onto ourselves and allows us to touch our deeper personal levels and activate our inner potential. Learning through gamification was useful, relaxed and entertaining." 


 
VIDEO 5 : Conference participant
"Today's event was a truly unique experience, we met many new people and gained many new experiences. We worked deeply on some of the methods that I'm less familiar with and this gave me a new perspective. It was certainly helpful to have an underlying theme, the story of Robin Hood that was used in the game, to tie the activities together."


Marjetka Kastner, Conference participant: "Although I'm quite used to the fact that Violeta always 'surprises' you with new ways of finding solutions, I could not help but feel astonished yesterday. Problem-solving through gamification is not only an interesting, entertaining and creative method, but it's also very effective. I believe that this approach to developing and finding solutions for the business world has opened new horizons to other participants as well. I hope you will continue developing creative ideas and I thank Violeta and the whole team for a truly magnificent event."

Photo: Representatives of organization Beyond Leadership with Violeta Bulc
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

Inspiration


 
VIDEO 6: Daniela Taleh, Beyond Leadership Austria:
"My experience with this workshop is that it is not about brainstorming, it is about "heart-storming".


Photo: Detail of spatial arrangement
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Polona Pergar Guzaj, Conference participant: "I had great expectations for this conference, but it's was actually even better than expected – completely different to what we're used to and I'm looking forward to future interactions of this kind and I hope they are as effective as this one. The participants had the opportunity to get to know each other well... and it's wonderful that we were able to learn about several different methods. My only criticism of the conference is that we weren't able to try all methods.


 
VIDEO 7 : Conference participant
"Today's conference was truly unique, completely different with respect to being introduced to new methods and learning through play. I think this is an excellent idea for the business world."


Ivana Davidović, participant: "Curiosity has brought together managers, entrepreneurs and individuals from various fields and with various interests and characters in one place. Through group work, we joined our forces in finding solutions to the presented plot in an innovative way. With transitions from one method to another, more and more ideas arose, but also questions and doubts challenging some of the conclusions we have previously formed together. The team started working together in perfect timing without pressure. Each next method acquainted us with new approaches to work in different areas and stimulated the desire to improve and integrate knowledge. We were already familiar with some of the methods, others were new to us. However, selected and condensed in this manner they were effective in an entirely new manner. Using gamification, the innovative concept of this conference kept us at our best at all times. A simulation of an innovative process combines dreams, knowledge and teamwork. It opens up room for boldness and the belief that we can find solutions together. This was a truly remarkable experience to have in a single day."

Photo: Implementation of  spirital technique
Sorce: Pina Maja Bulc

 Gamification

The background of the entire Conference was a business game based on the story of Robin Hood that was adapted to the jargon and challenges of the business world. The activities as a whole simultaneously served as a demonstration of the gamification/playification method with several twists in the plot, carefully selected additional information, misleading information, etc., all of which was used to simulate the everyday market conditions in which innovations must be developed.


 
VIDEO 8: Sonja Šmuc, Conference conductor, Executive Director of the Managers' Association of Slovenia
"Gamification requires a contextual frame. We chose the well-known story of Robin Hood simply to have a common topic for discussing innovation instead of each individual bringing their own idea and challenge as this would make finding a common ground very difficult. If the participants are presented with the same background story, the process is easier for them as they are concentrating on the story, its challenges and finding solutions. They can later repeat the process they went through by simply replacing Robin Hood with ‘I, Inc.’."


Blaž Branc, Baltazar marketing, co-author of the gamification concept: "The Robin Hood experiential leap: The gamification of the educational event, entitled "From Inspiration To Innovation", was a demanding and daring achievement; the processes of 1) creation – basic design of the conference (as an experiential event), and 2) gamification were partly simultaneous. Now, I see that gamification was absolutely necessary as we needed a common challenge for the participants to address through teamwork. The challenge was provided through a narrative ( the story of Robin Hood) that was amended with a few game elements (game world, teams, canvas, and elements of a live action role-playing game). The participants and organisers confirmed already during the process that the educational and game elements of the conference formed a meaningful context and provided everyone with an engaging and involving playground in which an inventive result was almost unavoidable."

CONFERENCE ORGANISERS


Organisation Committee: Violeta Bulc (idea/innovation), Blaž Branc (gamification), Sonja Šmuc (marketing), Tanja Maljevac (space), Petra Treven Bernat (moderators), Bogo Seme (energy potential)

Management of the environment and rules:

Conference host: Violeta Bulc
Conference conductor: Sonja Šmuc
Conference coordinators: Kaja Rangus, Petra Svetina, Petra Jerina
Resources management: Barbara Ogrinc
Narrator (video summary): Filip Bračevac
Photography: Pina Maja Bulc
Spatial energy management: Bogo Seme, Jože Žmavc, Urška Lan, Alex Lan
Physical space and atmosphere management: Raphael Duret-Nauche, Andreja Cepuš, Tanja Maljevac, Barbara Viki Šubic, Špela Kuhar, Uroš Zajec
Game management: Blaž Branc, Gregor Kamnikar
Volunteers: Žiga Bulc, Eva Reichmann

Photo: Andreja Cepuš in Raphael Duret-Nauche
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Holder and moderator of the IDEA node: Marjeta Novak
Holders of the innovation process in the designing a conceptual solution (idea):

1. The Power of Connecting, integrative method by Beyond Leadership: Tičo Zupančič
2. Brainstorming: Mateja Drnovšek
3. Lateral thinking: Nastja Mulej
Photo: "The Power of Connecting" technique
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Holder and moderator of the INVENTION node: Petra Treven Bernat
Holders of the innovation process in designing a prototype (invention):

1. LEGO simulation: Tadej Pugelj
2. U Method – Sculptures: Resolving 'stuck' situations through spontaneous (intuitive) responses of the group: Vesna Kovačič
3. Dragon's Dreams: Helena Černej and Špela Kuhar

Photo: LEGO simulation
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Holder and moderator of the INNOVATION node: Tadej Petek
Holders of the innovation process in understanding the needs and the value created for the market (innovation):

1. Customer segmentation according to the MABS method: Mojca Štepic
2. Running Lean: customer interviews: Geni Arh and Meta Arh
3. Business model canvas: Marko Savić
Photo:  Business model canvas
Source: Pina Maja Bulc
Inspiration methods holders:
1. 4D Method: Darja Cvek Mihajlović
2. Establishing and harmonising intent: Breda Kovačec Mencej
3. Somatic awakening: Aleš Kranjc Kušlan

Photo: Exhibition of result
Source: Pina Maja Bulc

We are GRATEFUL to the Slovenian business community and thank everyone for being able to do these exciting things. Onward to new creativity...

Violeta

Monday, June 9, 2014

Experiential conference on the wings of gamification

The idea for an experiential conference is the result of frustration and boredom. Attending conferences has become a tedious task for me, both as a participant and as a lecturer. As a participant I am sometimes excited by certain lecturers with interesting stories and experience.
CHALLENGE: tediousness; the passive role of the listener or lecturer at meetings/trainings.
However, I am discouraged by the essential structure of such events as they do not enable participation, exchange of opinions and first-hand experiences. I find that I'm learning most effectively from my own experience with a particular subject, but only if it makes me feel excitement for something new and if it challenges my comfort zone. It is also nourishing to push the limits of my knowledge in an actual way, i.e. by comparisons with my personal experiences. Lecturing at conferences made me feel the same way. Apart from networking I usually have no opportunity to interact with the attendees and learn their views on my presented topics and their significance for them and their own environments.
IDENTIFIED NEED: a new type of professional meetings/conferences/trainings with experiential learning and exchange of experiences.
I soon realised this frustration was shared by others, too. Many of my colleagues experienced conferences, professional discussions, and trainings in a similar way. 

And so the idea for a new type of conference was born. A discussion led to a joint effort resulting in an experiential conference addressing the lack of awareness regarding the methods used for the dynamic development of the innovation process (link for I2 - post in Violeta's Blog) and the concept of gamification (link for gamification - post in Violeta's Blog), which already spurred significant interest when we first discussed it in January 2014.
Conference organisers: InCo Movement, Manager's Association of Slovenia, Slovenian Association of Facilitators, Architecture Centre, expert groups and individual experts (36 people directly involved in the realisation of the Conference).
This article describes the content of  our business innovation - the "Experiential Conference: From Inspiration To Innovation Through Gamification". This is a story that will be fully manifested on 12 th of June 2014. You are invited  to share its energy.

Photo 1: Model of experiential Conference "From inspiration to innovation", Ljubljana 2014

WHY? (What drove us in designing an experiential conference based on gamification?)
 

We wanted to:
• develop a non-technological innovation for application in conference activities; make the conference playful, experiential; involve all participants in the conference activities;
• provide the participants with a unique experience of a systemic (comprehensive) approach to the innovation process through 12 diverse methods;
• introduce the Slovenian business community to expert professionals who can be employed by organisations, institutions and individuals to help with the development of the innovation process;
• develop a commercial product for a new type of conference/workshop in accordance with  innovation and gamification principles.


Photo: Testing of the Conference's concept (part of the team),
Ljubljana, May 2014
Source: Vibacom
The idea of an experiential conference gathered together representatives from all key aspects of successful innovation  process: content (game) developers, method presenters, moderators, designers of the physical and energy space, authors of video and photography materials and volunteers who recognised the exciting nature of the idea. We share curiosity, the desire to discover something and contribute something to development and creative teamwork.


HOW? (The key basic elements for implementing an experiential conference):
The methods: The conference will present 12 different methods for the 4 key phases of the innovation process.
The roles: The organisers will assume 14 different roles for the Conference's successful execution.


Photo 2: Model of experiential Conference "From inspiration to innovation", Ljubljana 2014
The model: To ensure an active role of the participants at the conference we have developed a special "canvas" (a template of the business model of a strategic plan), which will be amended by the participants throughout the event/game.
The game: The background of the entire conference is a business game based on the story of Robin Hood that was adapted to the jargon and challenges of the business world. The activities as a whole will simultaneously serve as a demonstration of the gamification/playification method with several twists in the plot, carefully selected additional information, misleading information, etc., all of which will be used to simulate the everyday market conditions in which innovations must be developed.
The Teams: 9 teams of participants (strategists solving the Robin Hood challenge) will be simultaneously active at the conference; each team will act as a group of advisors who will, based on news from Sherwood, form a strategic plan for Robin to help him achieve his vision, throughout the conference.
The process: The innovation process is one of key elements of the innovation structure (I2 polinkaj na stran o I2). It is not relative to industry or structure (there are no significant differences depending on where it is applied - industry, local community, small business, NGO, research institute, educational institution, etc.). It addresses and supports the development of contextual elements that help us recognise the need for innovation and helps develop inspiration from thought to product, service or solution that is attractive to the market. The process of the conference is divided into 4 key sections representing the four phases of the innovation process and events connecting these phases into a whole (the drafting of an idea, design of a prototype, market manifestation/identifying the needs and central activity in the market).
The environment: The organisation and the physical and energy tools of specific parts of the environment support the context and process of the event taking place in it.
Additional elements: The environment and activities will be supported with game elements that will help create an experiential atmosphere of the plot.
The rules: The rules of the event defining appropriate relationships between all participants.
Accompanying activities: In addition to the innovation process, the conference will offer several additional activities that will support the authenticity of the experience and help participants understand the challenges they will be faced with.
The schedule: The most classical aspect of the conference, which however also contains hidden dynamic elements and helps establish a connection between the conference experience and real life.


Photo 3: Model of gamification

The elements of the conference are based on the philosophy of participative leadership, cooperation, co-creation and active participation of all community members. It promotes the principles of inclusion, respect of diversity, equal representation of opinions, proposals and views of all community/team/game members.

1st experiential conference in Slovenia: From inspiration to innovation (Experiential conference through 12 techniques)
WHEN: 12th of June 2014 at 8 a.m.
WHERE: Ljubljana

http://www.incomovement.eu/from-inspiration-to-innovation

WHAT (Which topics will the Conference address and what are its key outcomes?):

The contents produced by the project groups through gamification will serve as the basis for learning about different methods for successful implementation of an innovation process.

The content is divided into the following basic sections:
- gamification of the Robin Hood tale: the concept of the game and the philosophy of its application in the business environment with the aim of acquiring new competences through a simulation of a real-world environment; these competences are required in facing real-life challenges.
- the "canvas" model used by the team for preparing a final report (strategic plan): the canvas is used for the visualisation of the results and understanding of the key elements that need to be drawn from the story in the individual phases of the innovation process.
- the strategic plan: the final result of gamification presented to Robin Hood at the end of the Conference in the form of "recommendations from the Sherwood advisors"; based on these reports Robin will chose who will assist him in his decisions in the future.


Photo 4: Kanvas for gamification

I am certain that the event before us will be unique. Everything that will happen, is experienced and internalised, or will flourish, is a part of the story as a whole. And that's exactly how it should be. That's how our life is - unpredictable, exciting and open to new things. Join us and experience the process of innovation through innovation itself. Equip yourself with modern tools and confidently seek the opportunities this modern age offers us.

Take care, Violeta

P.S.: the Experiential Conference 2014 is the result of open innovation of a large circle of individuals who have felt the need for something new and responded to the best of their abilities. We are sharing everything we have created during the past nine months on an open source principle - we are openly sharing it with the
community (with you)  that has enabled us to create it in the first place. Thank you!


How can we cooperate
Where can we meet globally?
  • Next BIN dogodek: BIN@SHEFFIELD, United Kingdom, 3rd - 5th November 2014
Interesting links

Monday, May 19, 2014

Absorption and open innovation

The desire for development and the need for constant adjustment to the dynamic circumstances of life lead individuals and companies into new forms of organisation, cooperation and (co)creation. Open innovation is one of the forms of generating (added) value. The concept was first introduced in a comprehensive manner in 2003 by prof. Henry Chesbrough in Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology. Due to it's applicability, the concept is being rapidly integrated within the business world, but it is also drawing interest in scientific circles, which are applying systematic research to fill in the gaps in understanding, behaviour, and nature of open innovation and contribute to the development of its new forms.

Vibacom has been actively participating in the introduction and development of open innovation models in Slovenia since 2005. In order to acquire the latest knowledge in the field, we joined the national "Young Researchers from the Business Sector" programme initiated by the SPIRIT Slovenia - Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Development, Investment and Tourism. We supported Kaja Rangus' doctorial research, entitled »Proclivity for open innovation: construct development, determinants and outcomes«. We are very proud of her successful path of development, which will set a new milestone with the presentation of her work in July 2014. She presented the results of her initial research project at the Academy of Management 2013 international scientific conference and will present the results of her second and third research projects in the coming weeks, namely at the IAMOT 2014 in R&D management 2014 international scientific conferences, thus reinforcing a Slovenian presence in the global treasury of knowledge. This is her story.

V: How would you define the concept of open innovation?
It’s a new method for developing products and services, which in addition to employees' knowledge and ideas, also includes external partners: from customers/users, suppliers, universities, laboratories, individuals (developers and inventors) to companies from different fields, and even competitors. Open innovation opens
Open innovation - inclusion of external partners in the process of innovation: from customers/users, suppliers, universities, laboratories, individuals (developers and inventors) to companies from different fields, and even competitors.
numerous new possibilities for cooperation to a company, ensuring the availability of ideas for developing new and improved products, services and solutions, as well as opportunities for entering new markets. Prof. Chesbrough introduced this process in the form of a "tunnel" (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The concept of open innovation
Source: Rangus, 2010 (adapted from: H. Chesbrough (2003). Open Innovation:
The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology)

Figure 1 shows that ideas for a new or improved product/service/solution in any phase of its innovation development process can come from internal technological and non-technological bases, as well as from external sources. A company can: 1) invite external partners to cooperation as early as  the initial stage of collecting ideas, or 2) in the development phase, recognising the need for an additional component (level of knowledge, ideas for the intermediate or final product) that is less costly and quicker to obtain if purchased or licensed from an external partner. It can also occur that a company through its own development generates a by-product that is not suitable for its core activity and thus decides to sell or license it out (for a licensing fee) to another company. Open innovation nowadays often leads, as a consequence of the need for quick product launches or entries to new markets, to new partnerships in the form of a brand (trademark) or joint-venture.

V: Does his mean that the concept of open innovation is not only about receiving ideas and knowledge from the outside, but also involves mutual transfer/sharing of knowledge?
Absolutely. It's a two-phase process: one phase of open innovation concentrates on acquiring new knowledge and ideas from outside, while the second phase involves sharing a company's knowledge and ideas with external parties. The key concern for a company is to find the appropriate balance between which ideas, knowledge or technology they need to acquire externally and to what extent they want to share their knowledge with external parties. What is most important is that a company focuses on its core abilities while involving external partners in other, less important activities and products/services. The key criteria in making such decisions are cost-effectiveness, quicker launches and the potential of entering new markets.
Photo 2: Vibacom team, from the left
(Violeta , Kaja, Barbara)
Source: Vibacom
V: How would you summarize the advantages of open innovation?
The main advantage is obtaining a broader spectrum quantity of new ideas, particularly ideas with high market attractiveness as one of the sources are also end customers, access to knowledge and technologies a company is lacking, shorter time to product launches, entry into new markets and lower costs of developing the final product.

V: Does this concept have any negative aspects?
Unfortunately, every positive thing has a negative side to it. The negative aspect of open innovation is often the reluctance of employees when it comes to cooperating with external partners, the so-called »Not-Invented-Here« syndrome, meaning that the developers in a company do not accept technology/knowledge/solutions that are not developed internally. Furthermore, employees are accustomed to their routines which makes it difficult for them to adjust to a new way of obtaining ideas, new models for their development and a new frame of mind. With respect to business partnerships, the main area where problems arise is defining contractual obligations and ownership of the final product/service.

V: Are there any concrete examples of implementing open innovation?
There are several activities for implementing open innovation. For example, a company can obtain external knowledge/ideas based on:
•    cooperation (networking) with different external partners,
•    outsourcing research and development services from universities and laboratories,
•    involving customers/users,
•    joint investments (start-ups, spin-offs) with external partners,
•    purchasing/in-licensing external technology and knowledge.

A company can develop and share its internal potential with external parties through:
•    establishing new companies (venturing),
•    selling/out-licensing its proprietary technology and knowledge,
•    involving all employees in the search for ideas and development of new products and services.

V: Could you illustrate this with an example from practice?
The most common form/method of open innovation is including users in the development of new products/services. Companies often obtain ideas from users regarding new or improved products/services in the "traditional way", e.g. through questionnaires in stores, forms for submitting ideas on web pages, etc. More and more companies are starting to establish dedicated web platforms/communities for users, where they can submit their ideas for new/improved products/services and mutually comment, like and rate them. Dell has been maintaining such a platform for several years (Dell Idea Storm), and so has Starbucks (my Starbucks Idea). Some take it a step further offering the development of a personalized product, such as NikeID and miAdidas products, or Lego's  (preko Lego Create and Share).
Technologically more complex projects utilize platforms that enable exchange of technologies and finding appropriate partners for developing specific technologies (the so-called "Open innovation Marketplaces"), such as Nine Sigma, InnoCentive, Yet2, etc.

Photo 3: prof. Henry Chesbrough and Kaja Rangus
Source: Kaja Rangus' personal archive
V: Your doctorial research analyzes the absorptive capacity of companies. Could you please explain this concept?
The absorptive capacity is the ability of a company to "absorb" information from external sources. It represents its ability to detect, adjust and integrate external information into its own operations. Clearly, a company's absorptive capacity greatly depends on the absorptive capacity of individuals/employees and their ability to detect external information and transfer it into the company.
»The absorptive capacity is the ability to detect, adjust and integrate external information into a company's operations.« 
V: What are the key elements of your doctorial work?
The first chapter is dedicated to developing measurement criteria for assessing open innovation in a company. The main challenge of researching the said concept lies in the fact that existing scientific research primarily deals with defining the concept itself and presenting case studies of large multinationals that have successfully implemented open innovation in their business operations. My aim was to verify on a large sample of companies whether the concept actually improves the level innovation in the company. To this aim I developed a measurement tool, which assesses a company's  tendency to utilize open innovation and includes all of the above activities of open innovation. Such a measurement is interesting from the scientific point of view since it allows an in-depth analysis of the concept with respect to researching the influence of open innovation and its relationship with other organisational correlates on large samples. From the practical point of view, the measurement is interesting for it describes the various methods of implementing individual aspects of open innovation. The measurement was developed on a sample of over 300 Slovenian companies and additionally tested with a sample of 100 Italian companies.

V: So, the second chapter must be focusing on studying the influence of open innovation?
Correct. The second chapter uses structural modelling to verify the model of relationships between open innovation, absorptive capacity and a company's level of innovation. The results of a new survey with a sample of 450 Slovenian companies verified the theoretical concept of the model, in which absorptive capacity plays the role of a mediator in the relationship between open innovation and innovativeness of a company. In other words, open innovation and absorptive capacity directly positively influence the innovativeness of a company; similarly, open innovation directly positively influences absorptive capacity, and through it indirectly also the company's innovativeness. My research shows that the cumulative effect of open innovation and the absorptive capacity on a company's innovativeness is greater than the sum of each individual factor, thus indicating the power of mutual influence of different organisational abilities.
The survey shows that all aspects/activities of open innovation positively influence the innovativeness of a company, wherein the key factor is employee involvement. This means that internal organisation and the human factor play a key role in the implementation of open innovation. Particularly  managers' open-mindedness. 
V: And what are the key findings of your third survey?
My third survey, with a sample of nearly 700 companies from Slovenia, Italy and Belgium, studies the influence of individual aspects of open innovation on the innovativeness of a company and highlights several steps for the successful implementation thereof. The survey shows that all aspects/activities of open innovation positively influence the innovativeness of a company, wherein the key factor is employee involvement. This means that internal organisation and the human factor play a key role in the implementation of open innovation. This particularly requires managers to have an open frame of mind if they decide to implement this method of innovation, but employees also need to be aware of the importance of exchanging information and cooperation, both with colleagues and with external partners. Based on the implementation of the various aspects of open innovation, I classified companies into four groups using cluster analysis. I named such identified groups as follows: Open innovators (actively performing all activities of open innovation); Systems engineering companies (actively performing all activities of open innovation, except for contracting research and development services from universities and laboratories); R&D outsourcers (actively utilizing contracting research and development services from universities and laboratories), Customer-oriented companies (only actively involving customers in the innovation process). The survey showed that the group of open innovators is the most innovative compared to the other three.

Photo 4: Kaja Rangus
Source: Kaja Rangus' personal archive
V: And your final message for companies…?
The research I conducted for my doctorial dissertation clearly proves the positive effects of open innovation. Naturally, not all companies are suitable for implementing all aspects of open innovation. I believe that it is of utmost importance that a company determines which activities are specifically suitable for implementation without significant efforts and costs. More than the effort to implement all activities of open innovation, I believe that the key is in open-minded managers and employees and knowing what can be gained from cooperation, sharing and exchange. Thus, open innovation is established spontaneously.

Kaja, thank you for opening a new dimension of understanding the nature of innovation in (business) systems. It will support our efforts to translate our insights about open innovation into new value in small, medium and large companies, as well as in local communities, the civil society and personal development. May these multiplicative effects be manifested in your environment, too.

OSTI JAREJ, Violeta

»Operation part- financed by the European Union, European Social Fund.«


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  • The art of co-operation between man and nature
  • The response has been overwhelmingly positive with support from more than 90 countries.
    Please spread the word and support the nomination of Prof. Agni Vlavianos Arvanitis, a woman of peace and advocate of the environment, for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Let’s sound a wake-up call to governments, the media and people everywhere to save all life on our planet in a common effort for peace.
    Click here to register your support http://biopolitics.gr/biowp/nobel-support/

Friday, April 25, 2014

Inspiration from youth

Just like everything else around us, we can view those young minds through a prism of curiosity, creativity and excitement, or through a prism of nihilism, decadence and self-destruction. Both these two extreme views, with all their shades of orange and grey between, are integral parts of our lives. The young are no exception. However, this article aims to express respect and admiration for the activities of our (modern) youth. I feel enriched by their global involvement and active connectedness, their emotional attachment to nature, animals and their criticism of the promulgated "official" truth.  The Web is their platform for self-expression, but also their door to their first business experiences. These young women are responsible guides and commissioners of the scout organisation where they transfer their enthusiasm to those younger than themselves. They are among the best in Europe in ability, other scout activities and sports. Their friendships are strengthening and help them grow. They are not disillusioned by the frustrations facing adults; they accept the falling of masks and the cries of crisis as a normal response; yet as something they want to go beyond to create a world of their own. They accuse us of nothing. Actually, they don't bother themselves with our world and don't mourn how things used to be at all. Anja Troha and Pina Maja Bulc have summarised the mentality and activities of their generation in the interview that follows. This is their story, but it also represents the vibrations that give wings to the youth in the 21st century.

V: Anja and Pina Maja - who are you?
We're 3rd year students at the Gimnazija Moste secondary school. We dedicate most of our spare time to our scout activities, agility, video, photography and nature walks. We are interested in modern society, interpersonal relationships and life here and now. We critically observe our lives and the lives of our generation that are often entrapped by media, high or low standards, modern technology and the struggle of seeking one's own identity.

Photo: Pina Maja and Anja
 Source: personal archive
 "Our international ties are very important to us: we've participated in student exchange in primary and secondary school (Comenius) and are looking forward to the Erasmus programme for university students."
V: So what are our youth like? What are you like?
We often hear remarks based on stereotypes that are predominantly unfounded or untrue. Is  modern youth really so problematic and different from that which our parents' generation  when they were young? Seemingly lacking life and values?
Obviously, we're greatly dependant on gadgets, but what most people forget that the youth of the 21st century is also the first generation that has been familiar with the virtual world practically since birth. This is probably why we're able to accept it, adapt to it and incorporate it in our daily lives so quickly and effortlessly.

Photo: out and around
Source: personal archive

V: What do you mean? How do you incorporate technology in your everyday lives?
Quick transfer of information and infinite databases that include everything: from global news to historical facts. Daily weather forecasts, bus departures and sudden changes in our schedules are just a click away. And don't forget mass learning material, such as Wikipedia, websites with school transcripts, home reading reports and author information. Limitless browsing through the web allows us access to geographical, historical, geological, biological, psychological and socially beneficial information. Finally, there are also global photography, and video sites that allow us access to what is happening across the planet. Authors of photographs and videos communicate and exchange experiences, knowledge and adventures, without us having to leave our homes. Such contacts can eventual lead to deeper friendships, and consequently travel and first hand discovery of the beauty of the world.
Take the example of a student who picks a project of researching the traditional culture of Uganda - since students at our school had the opportunity to meet young people from Uganda when they visited us within an international project, we are now able to stay in touch through social networks and get first-hand information and images from their country.

V: International projects have special significance in your lives. What is it?International exchange and projects are amazing. For the past two years, our school, Gimnazija Moste, has been participating in the EU-funded Comenius project, which allows us to meet other EU nations. Due to this project we have first-hand experiences of Portugal, Poland, Italy and Spain, as well as their cultures, languages, habits, way of life and thinking of our peers. This is a wealth of experience you can't buy and the mutual satisfaction of all participants stimulates us to maintain and grow the established relationships.

Photo: out and around
Source: personal archive
V: So, young people can actually find school interesting?
Ha-ha. The Project Week at our school is great. Classes are conducted quite differently then. No sitting behind desks and monotonous delivery of study subject - something both students and teachers are quite fed up with. This is a week when you can freely choose your school activities. You can travel, attend a photography course, visit various institutions, explore environmental protection, sports, dance and creativity or solve maths and physics problems. It's a week when you can have fun getting your study credits and everybody looks forward to it every year. What can't we learn like that all year!?
Anja, Eva, Melanija and Pina Maja first astonished me with their team's creativity when they put together a film about their school's Project Week in their second year. Their this year's contribution is a step up the ladder in colourfulness and dynamics, and reflects how the girls have grown personally in a year. Even the most inexpert viewer can understand the multi-layered structure in their earnest representation of the boldness of youth, sharp eye, social sensitivity and clarity of their message. Since then I have been following their growth with admiration, listening to their reasoning and looking forward to their hikes across the borders  of the prevailing thought patterns and stereotypes about the Slovenian society.

Project week at the Gimnazije Moste 2013 - video
Project week at the Gimnazije Moste 2014 - video
Summerland 2013 - video


Photo: group of  scouts
 Source: personal archive
V: The Internet, gadgets, school and international ties are obviously things characteristic for your generation. Is this all?


Far from it. We also make our afternoons much more fun with various sports activities and musical creativity. Let me, for example, just stress the necessity of having a guitar at every scout activity. Then there's also modern music we can share via our phones, iPads and iPods to make the best of the time we spend together. We're particularly glad that we as creators of video content are able to cooperate with musicians who allow us to use their music as background for our videos, thus making them pleasant not only to the eye but to the ear as well.
We often organise trips to nature, to which we all increasingly return, as well as cohabitation with and learning from animals, not to mention cultural learning and spending time with our friends. We should also mention our voluntary and charitable work, such as helping the elderly, fund-raising for families in need and working with animal shelters. The last is evident from how many adopted animals we have at home. We also daily follow what goes on at shelters, such as Mačja Hiša (Cat House) and others, as well as various associations for animal protection across Slovenia.



V: Nevertheless, we can't overlook the fact that the occurrence of various addictions among the youth is growing. Why?!
True, young people are often addicted to drugs and other illegal substances as well as alcohol, cigarettes and electronic gadgets.
We are teens and we all know how difficult growing up is because we are facing our inner problems and obstacles. Also, we are strongly influenced by the media. They dictate standards for our lives that are often contrary to what we truly are and that's why we often seem heartless, careless and distant.
My friends and I try our best to maintain our connectedness with other people and with nature. While walking through the woods and spending time with friends one can forget for a moment we are living in the 21st century since the time spent there resembles how our ancestors lived before all this modernisation. Nobody says this is easy. Many people get lost on the way or are overpowered by negative influences. We try to help them and show them that our inadequacies are what makes us perfect and that one can find other standards to achieve. Standards that allow us to be ourselves. And knowing that others will accept us better when we've dropped our masks and released the ballast of the rules of the society, current and past.

This is also the reason why it is wrong to see the modern society as gone awry. There is a lot of progress, ideas, innovation and positive change. The problem is all of this is often overshadowed by negative stereotypes. Regardless of all, we're not abusing this progress. We're simply living with it.

V: One final question - what sort of a future do you think about? Clearly, we want progress and technological progress offers many interesting possibilities. But we also want a society that would make use of this progress to make a better world. A world where we appreciate what Mother Earth gives us and where everyone, young and old appreciates it and lives in harmony with it. We try to keep in mind the Cree Prophecy: "When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money."

Photo: The joy of life
 Source: personal archive
Thank you Anja, thank you Pina Maja. We should not fear for our future. This only makes me sincerely wish we can establish an effective intergenerational dialogue that will enrich us and connect the good in us and around us. 

Take care, Violeta


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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Alchemy of Leadership and Organisation

Innovation has been recognized in the modern world as a key means of  value creation. It's characteristics go really well with the development of the global economy.
The innovation concept has created an opportunity for all participants of any modern society to thrive. For its full participation it needs dynamic, diversified systems with non-hierarchical, but horizontal organizational structures.

Source: Dirk Oellibrandt

Innovation allows us to manifest all of our diversified views and multilayered competences in a form of fresh products, services and solutions that create value and support a sustainable and prosperous development for diverse societies, but then, only when in the hands of responsible and assertive people. Otherwise, it can also bring, equally effectively, destruction and harm.
Suggested readings:
Bulc, V. (2013, 24th -26th June) Mass participation in innovation – the foundation of a modern organization and beyond. The Hague: ICE & IEEE-ITMC Conference 2013 (eng)

You tube: Jef Staes Red Monkey, March 2014
In progressive, innovatively orientated societies, we are realizing more and more that leaders in organizations and teams again play an important, yet, quite different role than the past. Instead of being a hierarchical authority that has all the best responses and solutions, and makes decisions on behalf of everyone within a team or an organization, the successful leaders see their role as:
  • establishing the right conditions for people to thrive in them
  •  in recognizing potentials and personal mission in each individual
  • in creating diversified partnerships that can effectively and efficiently respond to the needs of societies.
They get actively involved in organizational innovation, social innovation and innovative business modelling. They inspire and hold a safe space for people to dare to go beyond the accepted boundaries and norms.
Suggested readings:
•    Bulc, V. (2013, July) Connecting Evolution and Involution to Create a Positive Foundation for an Eco-Civilization. Taiwan: International Conference on Social Environmental Education for an Emerging Eco-Civilization
•    Bulc, V. (2011, April). "Leadership Within". A leadership style for evolving organisations. Ljubljana: InCo International Conference 2011
•    YouTube: Leadership Within (Do we still need to lead), 2011

But how and where to develop the needed leadership competences, experiences? Our guest  today is Dirk Oellibrandt, who will invite us to think in terms of Alchemy. This is his message to modern leaders:

“In the business world there is a deep need for leaders who can look, think, feel, communicate and lead differently.  But rarely we see methods that are really different and practically useful at the same time.
Photo: Dirk Oellibrandt
Source: personal archive
More about Dirk

Alchemy might sound like an “airy fairy” thing that needs to be kept out of business. But Alchemy is simply using the full potential available; so that you combine all the ingredients rightly as superior creation arises (like gold).

The full potential is most easily found into the four human dimensions (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual). The leader who masters the four dimensions of leadership is prominent on his director chair and a magnet for business opportunities. 


The uniqueness of the approach of Life Projects is that it is able to make the two dimensions in organizations and training, which rarely come up for discussion - namely the physical and spiritual dimension, both practical and profitable.  Our experience in companies like Microsoft, National Police Holland and may more proves this.

The principle of  “Organismations” uses the working principle of living organisms in your organization.  It helps you to transform your business from half dead and boring to a living organization. Showing you how to bring true nature back into your team and organization.


An invitation to the “Alchemy of Leadership and Organisation workshops”:
Are you a leader or professional who has the desire to awaken the dormant potential inside of you, your team, your organisation, your clientele? Learn how to create gold!  Bringing the best to the surface in yourself and everyone around you. The natural way to effectively build on a sustainable business and a higher quality society.

When & where & what:
1.    Full day program on Sunday, April 6th 2014 in Ljubljana
2.    3h overview workshop on Monday, April 7th 2014 in Ljubljana 

As two leaders who followed our program stated: "I regained my life back."

Through this state your life and leadership become embodied and you’ll be able to inspire and stimulate your environment from deeper values, wisdom, creativity and intelligence.


Leadership and guidance is now done from effortlessness. The deeper qualities and abilities gradually seep to the surface. The previously learned mental and emotional abilities are of course an added value to this state.

Source: Dirk Oellibrandt
 It is time that we look inwards and join the big mother-company (nature) and learn to look from the inner core of our team or organization at the available potential. Then a world of endless possibilities will open up where worldly success and individual fulfilment merge together.”

Testimonial on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRPvewi8BoI&feature=youtu.be

Source: Dirk Oellibrandt
Thank you Dirk, for this profound, and so much needed human message. Yes, leadership is all about people, people and again people. So simple, yet so often forgotten.

Osti jarej, Violeta

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