General Mills Tries an Innovation Network

generalmillslogoMarketing Daily has an article about General Mills’ launch of a “Worldwide Innovation Network.”  At first blush, this seems to be the sort of open innovation embraced by, among others, P&G, Peugot, and Nokia.  Really, though it looks like GM has simply opened itself up to acquiring new products through licensing and maybe acquisitions.  Not that this is a bad thing.  It all started two years ago when General Mills R&D formed an open innovation team.  This team “has traveled the globe, going to food trade and technology shows looking for technologies and ready-to-go products that could fit in to existing product lines.”  Doesn’t this beg the question of What was R&D doing before that? 

General Mills expects to gain speed to market through this program since presumably any product the company licenses or acquires will have already started down the development pipeline.  What this initiative does not seem to do, however, is tap into consumers for new ideas.  GM may already be doing this in other ways, but figuring out how to bring consumers into the innovation process may be the real Holy Grail.  It’s not clear, however, that the best model for that kind of open innovation has yet been developed.  At this point, the days of consumers offering good ideas for free are over, so some sort of reward or financial participation is a requirement.  Also needed is a way to sort the wheat from the chaff, and I have to believe there would be a lot of chaff.  The jury is still out on just how workable and sustainable such a process would be, but it certainly seems worth a try while marketplace enthusiasm is still high.

 (Via Endless Innovation)

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