The following is a report given by Deborah Mills-Scofiled on the event 'Practical Challenges of Global Innovation' organized by P&G Connect + Develop and Open Innovation partner Live Well Collaborative.This is part 2 of 2. (see part 1 of 2 here) In the second session Deborah will summarize the second and third speakers at the event:
Live Well Collaborative for 50+ Market
The second speaker was Craig Vogel, president of the Live Well Collaborative out of the University of Cincinnati, with P&G. He is also associate dean of Cincinnati’s college of design, architecture art and planning. This is one of the top design schools in the country. He teaches there and has an extensive background.
They have created a unique model, starting with P&G, which is a collaborative of academia and industry. It includes companies like Kraft, Boeing, LG, several other consumer product and other types of companies. The school of medicine, the nursing school, etc. have all partnered together to focus on the over 50 year old consumer – Baby Boomers and over.
They are creating products and services so they can live well. They have done some interesting things with P&G. For example, they looked at bathing. As your skin ages, you have different needs. They worked with students there at the center, the Live Well Collaborative. They looked at some things which were done in Japan and Spas. They came up with a product for bathing which purifies water and also helps improve skin moisture. The collaborative has been so successful that P&G helped the Live Well Collaborative launch a new design center in Singapore this past September.
They are also doing some exciting things with Boeing, looking at how to make the planes more over 50 friendly.
Overall, it is a really interesting model for open innovation. Deborah found this to be an interesting discussion because there were not that many people who realized the amount of needs out there and how they are being addressed, as well as the power of collaborating, not just on the product or service but also front end open innovation aspects of the design and going out to do ethnographic studies together.
Working with IP Attorneys
The last speaker was Kelly McDow. She is legal counsel for open innovation at P&G. She gave a fabulous talk. She is a chemist and also got her law degree. She understands the business, chemistry and legal side – which is rather unique. She posed two questions to the audience:
1. How can your IP attorneys help foster an open innovation mindset? (which is not an oxymoron, although some may think it is)
2. How can you help your IP attorneys and your partners’ IP attorneys get to that mindset?
What IP attorneys are rewarded for is protecting intellectual property, not necessarily sharing it. It is therefore a very ‘nervous’ topic. Kelly gave 9 basic points or considerations which she said would help. Deborah’s own experience working with her IP attorneys while at Bell Labs is that she wishes she would have known and adopted these at that time.
1. Find an IP attorney that is flexible, collaborative and able to see both sides.
That may come as very much of a no brainer, which it is. The reality is that you don’t always have the luxury of doing this. If you are a big company your corporate attorneys may not have that mindset. If you are able to hire outside counsel you really need to look for this and make it a priority in selection.
Given this probably can’t happen you need to focus on how to get your IP attorneys to be more flexible and collaborative.
2. Help your open innovation partner either find or have their IP attorney become more collaborative.
3. Engage your IP attorney early and often in the innovation process.
In most companies you wait until you are done and have thought things through before bringing them in. As a result their reaction will be along the lines of how they are going to protect the IP. If you bring your IP staff in early on when you are just starting to think about these things they will get a better understanding of why it matters, why it is important, all that it can and cannot do, and probably get a better perspective of why thinking about sharing this or getting more IP from outside to complement it could be beneficial.
Deborah has seen this work when she worked with clients on the Finance side as well, where they would simply bring in the finance folks earlier.
Get the IP folks involved, don’t treat them as an adversary, treat them as a team player.
4. Be mindful of confidentiality.
Nothing will kill or slow down the deal like breaking that trust on confidentiality. What you learn from them and what your partner learns needs to be kept in confidence.
5. Know what you and your partner need to be successful.
Define success as clearly as you can. Don’t just view success as the first deal. Your first deal, the first technology you work on, may not work because those molecules may not work the way you want them to, not through anyone’s fault or blame. You want to focus on a long term relationship. What do we need to be successful over the long term, even if the technology deals in between may not succeed.
6. You don’t need to own anything.
Just look at what you need to own versus license. You want your partner to be successful so that they will still be around to provide you with great new ideas and technologies.
7. Do your due diligence and let your partner do theirs.
Generally, you may not like to be asked those questions but they are the same ones you want to ask. Also, be nice to their IP attorneys. One of the things Kelly made clear is that while you are sitting there negotiating and dealing you may think it is the business folks you are dealing with that have the final say. However, it really is the IP attorneys.
“If the IP folks say this ain’t gonna happen, then it ain’t gonna happen”.
You really need to make sure that you are being as positive and open with their IP attorney as possible, to get a clear understanding.
8. Don’t lose your temper.
These discussions can get very heated and Deborah has been in some where people have stormed out of meetings very angry. When it starts getting heating, just take a break, go huddle and talk. Kelly commented on a case they were working with where the other side left the room for an hour and a half. Once you lose control in front of a potential partner it will affect trust.
9. Plan for the marriage and the divorce.
This is the case where you do want a very good prenuptial agreement because things may not work out. It is much easier to figure out how you will end the relationship when it is at the beginning when you are calm, cool and collected. When something goes wrong and you are in the middle of it everyone is heating, emotions are flying, and trying to figure out how to break apart becomes much more difficult.
Kelly said it is really critical to take care of the marriage and the divorce up front when heads are calm, cool and collected.
There were a lot of really great questions from small companies such as: How do we get involved with big companies? If I am a small company I may have my business dependent on this, what happens when the big company takes 8 months to get back to me?
Chris Thoen replied that one of the things P&G is really working hard at is understanding this and getting back very fast to their partners.
There were some more issues around intellectual property, and a lot around how you create the culture because that is one of the key points and the most difficult.
In the afternoon they did a pilot. Baldwin-Wallace Center for Innovation & Growth has a few key partners. These are companies that have invested in the center to help it grow. They did mini open innovations there with P&G and the partners. The partners would present what they do really well, what technology or capabilities they offer, and what they are looking for. Everyone mingled and figured out who could work with whom. There were a few opportunities which came out of this. Depending on feedback this might be something they pursue and open up to a broader audience. Like innovation it is experimental. They are piloting it to see how it goes and if it will work.
Deborah’s background is from Bell Labs where she has a patent for some things she invented. She started asking questions about why customers wanted things which led her to corporate consulting for many multi-nationals dealing with next generation core networks and the Internet. She then left AT&T and started her consulting and strategy & innovation firm. She is also a partner at an early stage venture capital firm in Cleveland. Deborah also does a lot of mentoring at her alma mater at Brown and also with a local college Baldwin-Wallace: Center for Innovation & Growth where they are getting students involved in economic regional development in the area of innovation and growth.