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Problem Solving Versus Question Asking

When all the world becomes "the innovation lab," how do innovation competitors compete? As pointed out by Michael Raynor and Jill Panetta in Harvard Business Publishing's higher education newsletter, the new basis for innovation competition shifts from controlling the prior "limiting resource" of problem solvers to the new limiting resource of question-askers.4 In open innovation, in which resources well beyond any imaginable corporate lab are available to solve problems, solvers often respond to the innovation challenges because they perceive a commitment to manufacture, market, and make their invention available to the public. In the two parts of innovation—invention and realization—this new openness, and the ease with which it can be accessed, represents a leap forward for the "invention" part, with the commitment to "realization" being a form of currency to the inventor.

Essentially, you pay people by selling what they invent. That is, the resources an idea seeker will use to distribute and commercialize an invention is beyond the scope of many would-be inventors who will engage with an expectation of some monetary return, but also with the prospect of being "paid" by having their invention marketed or even freely distributed and thus, the ability to make a difference.

This question-based competition also redefines the role for internal corporate staff, a topic addressed in much more detail in Chapter 3, "A New Innovation Framework."

In summary, innovation strategy is not an oxymoron. Failure by an organization to own that at the highest levels is a dereliction of duty.

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