Karim Lakhani Shares Findings from Three-Year Study on Open Innovation at NASA

Olivia Clark — June 08, 2018

In a recent piece for Harvard Business Review, Network member Karim Lakhani, Hila Lifshitz-Assaf and Michael Tushmanperson explain their findings from a three-year study at NASA’s Space Life Sciences Directorate following the long-term open innovation opportunities and issues of an R&D organization.

A year into the study, they found that a part of the issue was internal, as some scientists and engineers are hesitant about open innovation, as they feel it hinders their own, personal responsibilities as professionals in their fields. However, on the other end of the spectrum, some felt that open innovation and crowdsourcing furthered their work and only pushed them to seek even more information.

In response to this discovery, Lakhani, Lifshitz-Assaf and Tushmanperson continued their study for two more years, as they felt restructuring the concept of crowdsourcing could change its value for those that were reluctant about open innovation approaches.

Lakhani and colleagues note:

“We saw that it is vital to refocus engineers and scientists on the higher purpose of their work—at NASA, this meant focusing on the bigger mission of getting to Mars—and reframing the open innovation method as a tool that enables R&D professionals to achieve their mission faster. As one scientist put it, ‘At the end of the day, it’s about the big agenda versus the personal one. Science is about finding the truth!’”

“It is important to communicate that innovation is not only about having an innovative technology or science; it is also about innovating the actual process of innovating.”

Read more here.