Passion Amplifies When You Open Up

Last week we looked at how the sum of us is the key to get the best ideas from the most people. Today we take this a step further by stating the case that open source thinking ensures passion within your organization is amplified.

To most, it must feel counter intuitive that to amplify passion within your organization, it is best to encourage open source creativity that allows individuals from external to contribute to your growth agenda. We understand that to tough-minded executives who are on the line to deliver reliable short-term performance and create long-term economic value, open-source innovation can feel messy, chaotic, even strange. But we’re convinced that the outside-in logic of transparent, decentralized, grassroots creativity is poised to reshape strategy and executive leadership just as dramatically as it’s reshaping science and the arts. Indeed, leading open-source evangelists are making the connection between the roots of their software and the future of corporate innovation. 

There’s another lesson that’s really obvious. You cannot motivate the best people with money. Money is just a way to keep score. The best people in any field are motivated by passion. That becomes more true the higher the skill level gets. People do their best work when they are passionately engaged in what they’re doing. But don’t confuse passion or the grassroots spirit of open source, with a lack of toughness or a reluctance to compete. The open-source world is fiercely competitive. People like being part of a community in which they compete for their peers’ esteem. People want to believe that they’re working—and competing—with the best people in their field. If you’re working for a company, you measure yourself against a few hundred colleagues. If you’re working on a piece of open-source code, you might measure yourself against thousands of people all over the world. 

What goes for free-spirited hackers, applies to tough–minded entrepreneurs and company-builders as well. Ultimately, open-source innovation is more than a new way for individuals to display their talents. It’s a new way for organizations to beat their rivals. In the twenty-first century, one of the ways that companies are going to compete—and this goes beyond software—is to compete for the attention of outside brainpower. How does the company persuade smart people, whom the CEO or the head of HR has never met, to volunteer their energy, their intelligence, and a few hours of their time to help the company perfect a product or improve an idea? Companies that successfully attract outside brainpower will absolutely eat the lunch of companies that don’t. 

The current business model for Innovation is broken. It will not survive. In most companies, R&D budgets are rising faster than the rate of sales growth. That is not sustainable. And the explosion of technology is unbelievable. P&G has asked the question: “How can we build all of the scientific capabilities we need by ourselves?” The answer, of course, is that it can’t. Not even a company as big and rich as P&G can afford a do-it-yourself approach to innovation— not in a world where thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of well-trained researchers are working in labs in Russia, China, and India on all kinds of innovations that are relevant to the company’s huge assortment of brands. That’s why P&G must look outside the walls of its celebrated research labs, and beyond the breakthroughs of its full-time scientists, to tap the brainpower of the whole world. Even though P&G employs many of the smartest scientists and engineers in their fields, the company understands that nobody is as smart as everybody—and not everybody can work for P&G. 

It’s Procter & Gamble’s mission to figure out how it can tap into that outside genius. Their initiative, called Connect + Develop (that’s C + D, as distinct from R&D), has a mandate to help the consumer giant import half of all new technologies and product ideas from beyond the walls of the company. It’s hard for an outsider to appreciate the stakes of this shift: “Here you have a nearly one-hundred-seventy- year-old company with an unbelievable sense of pride in its science and marketing. And we’re viewing the outside world as the other half of our R&D lab. It’s an absolute sea change.” 

Leaders who embrace an open-source mind-set ask different questions of themselves than other leaders. 

Find the right answers to those questions, and you’re likely to find yourself at the center of exciting open-source innovations. You no longer have the classic carrot-and-stick approach to leadership. So how do you induce them to do things they might not do otherwise? By being more open than you’ve ever been. In this new world, the most transparent leader is the most attractive leader. The leader who figures out a way for everybody to win is going to be the leader who wins. The leader who comes with a zero-sum mentality gets zero. P&G were laughed at when it set it’s goal of 50% of it’s innovation to come from outside it’s wall. The goal is now at 70% and employee engagement is thriving.

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