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Dwayne Spradlin is President and Chief Executive Officer of InnoCentive, Inc. Previously, he served as President at Hoover's Inc. and before that he was President and Chief Operating Officer of[…]

Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive, says sustainable companies must build communities and adopt a constant innovation model.

Question: How do business innovation and sustainability work together?


Dwayne Spradlin: A business, whether it’s a large business, a small and medium business, should be thinking about what’s profitable. Where is the product I should be taking the market? Who am I going to sell it to? Etcetera. How do I build the right communities? Customer communities, employee communities, partner communities and by the way all of those communities are sources of innovation.


That becomes part and parcel to this notion of a constant innovation model. In the open innovation world, these sustainable businesses are focused much less on having to invent every piece of what they do and much more in creating a sustainable structure with which they can constantly innovate. So, when you look at business that are now really learning how to tap their customer base user driven design.


Five years from now, everybody’s going to look back and say that was intuitive, but the reality is five years ago, which you actually had to do to have a user-driven design style business was not done very often. People really should try to get their hands dirty trying to make it work.


Today, companies that get the killer business model right can effectively mine their communities and can create constant innovation through the use of their communities and application of their business models will be the businesses that I think will strive in the 21stcentury, and it’s even more so because now we are living in a world where you can get to market instantly. You can outsource manufacturing and other structures instantly. So, it’s the better business model, it’s who are your communities and mine them effectively and creating a structure that you constantly innovate, that’s the wining ticket.




Question: How can open innovation companies leverage talent?



Dwayne Spradlin: From an organizational point of view, it really is about talent management. The tools are changing, but the words are often the same. It’s about attracting talent, developing talent, and retaining talent. So in this new world, we see much more of a shift towards variable talent models and certainly engaging open innovation is a structure that allows organizations to--maybe the next heads I hire, I don’t actually hire, I virtually hire them. I get access to them through some of the global open innovation networks, or I get access to them through finding the right partners to help me move ahead as a business and that may very well be a superior economic for me, as a business to manage risk and cost.


Looking at this through the open innovation lens, it’s also a way for me potentially to get the market better, faster and more cost effectively. It’s not just the offset of cost, but in a world where 7 billion people, 6 billion people, you’ve people all over the planet that may actually have better ideas to solve a problem. They may actually be able to bring to bear some kind of an idea from another industry that it would have never occurred to my organization.


Recorded on: June 3, 2009.