From McKinsey, "Succeeding at open-source innovation: An interview with Mozilla's Mitchell Baker." This article offers three great tips for any size organization wanting to tap external ideas. Ms. Baker also talks about having a participatory culture.
Ms. Baker, "As companies reach beyond their boundaries to find and develop ideas, they are exploring new models (web 2.0 principles) to manage innovation. In projects that tap external talent, questions quickly arise about process management, intellectual-property rights, and the right to make decisions.
Turning people loose is really valuable. You have to figure out what space and what range, but you get a lot more than you would expect out of them, because they're not you.
Second, figure out where you want input. There are different varieties of input and user-generated content. Figuring out what you really want is very important because you can get benefits out of any of those things. But if you're doing one thing and sending out a message that you're doing another, I think you're dead.
Third, look hard at whether there are areas where you can give up some control, because the returns are great. And if you can't, then stay away from this type of model. If you have a good group of people around you people you trust sometimes just stepping back when you don't like something is really valuable."
We, Advancing Insights, have gained a lot of know-how over the years working in open source software (OSS) communities. Working as both, users and developers, we learned about community, collaboration, and innovation. We know from experience with corporate clients that these ideas and processes can be implemented to benefit any size project. Interestingly, it is from these communities that many of the ideas behind Web 2.0 technologies - Social Software have emerged.