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Innovation is not always about cool technology or the latest gizmo in the stores.  Purposeful innovation for any enterprise is about having an impact in the life of its customers.  As a panelist on the Innovation Panel at the Robert Morris University for their Professional Development Week, I was recently posed the question about what Innovation means, I defined it as Creativity applied with passion to disrupt our quality of life for the better.  The first step for such innovation is an environment that is, by design, a fertile ground for creativity to flourish with meaningful context. But what are the key characteristics of such an environment?  Three characteristics come to mind.  There must be sound business context for  innovation to happen enabled by next generation technologies fueled by a culture of open collaboration.  Business - Technology - Culture.  These three characteristics come together to define the Trifecta of Innovation.  Let us take a look at how these characteristics apply to the Open Innovation Labs recently announced by Red Hat.

As explained in this video by John Alessio and Nick Hopman, the Red Hat Innovation Labs brings together the business of the enterprise, the technology of Red Hat and the culture of open source.  It does this with a residency-style engagement designed to help customers address their business challenges in an accelerated fashion using open source technology in an environment that drives open communication and germination of ideas.

Business.  The first step to creating an environment for innovation is the business context.  Who are we innovating for?  What does the customer base look like?  What are the industries that said innovation is likely to play in.  Is there a business case for the innovative ideas?  What are the ideas that must be incubated with additional resources directed towards their growth?  These are the types of questions that Business addresses.  Taking a look at the Open Innovation Labs, the Customer represents the Business mindset.

Technology.  The Innovation Labs are setup with the requisite infrastructure ensuring the availability of next-generation technologies from Red Hat.  The immediate availability of the right combination of technologies ensures that the focus is not on the tools themselves but what can be done with the tools.  Also, additional tools can be stood up as needed depending upon the business or technical problem being addressed.  The environment is one of doing what is needed to fuel the innovative spirit with minimal distractions.

Culture.  It is all about the people -- people with intersecting perspectives.  Intersection fuels innovation.  There is a higher probability of new solutions being identified for existing problems when diverse perspectives prevail.  Diversity of Innovation -- read a poster at the OpenStack Summit where Intel VP Imad Sousou highlighted the powerful message of “OpenStack Open Source Open Mind” in his keynote.  An open environment conducive to collaboration and communication brings it all together to complete the environment where innovation can flourish.

An environment that is primed with these ingredients is more likely to yield tangible outcomes that matter to the enterprise and its customers.  Even more so because it can provide a way to redirect the focus of the people concerned on the specific problem at hand in a closed off-site setting so that they are not subject to their usual work-related distractions.

Open Innovation Labs -- an environment that is more likely to yield tangible ROI -- which in this case could very well mean Return on Innovation!

All it takes is the right business, the right tools and the right culture.  The Red Hat Open Innovation Labs has all three.


What say you? Are there ways to address business problems that matter to enterprises like yours in the Open Innovation Labs?

You betcha!

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