Open innovation is illusion without embedding it to company strategy

Antti Seppälä
3 min readSep 23, 2021


Solving wicked problems of the world or creating truly disrupting innovations take time. Sometimes it takes decade or more to get something new to become widely adopted. Let’s think about mobile payments or digital tickets in public transportation. It took almost ten years to reach crucial market adaptation for these services after all technical capabilities existing.

Think about rocket growing companies in our home markets. How old are these companies? They feel fresh and new, but you might be surprised to see when they are actually founded. Timeframe is something that challenging company strategy. It really takes time to see if strategy is success or not. And it takes even more time see if approach for strategy making process is success.

Evolution of strategy practices and impact on innovation (inspired by Richard Whittington)

Innovation is integral subset of company strategy

If you aim to build an innovative company, it not wise to leave it just the happy coincidence. It’s a choice that company need take part of strategy. When you need to take care of current client base and daily business, it’s all about allocation of your financial capital, resources and creative minds. Innovation activities take some those resources that are holding up current reality. That’s why innovation activity need to decide as integral part of company strategy.

Open innovation has been around as for a while, but it has got supercharged in recent years when people have started to realize benefits of inclusive work culture widely. In order to do open innovation you need open strategy to have all necessary flexibility to allocate your capital and resources based on ideas driven by the crowd. On the other hand you need to have organization that are used work self-driven way and being accountable for taking ideas forward.

Another important aspect is opening strategy making process for external ecosystem. It crucial to have your customers and partners part of the process to enrich your strategy and innovation activities. Involving customers is actually excellent way keep your innovation portfolio healthy.

It’s fair to say that process of open strategy and innovation is much more time consuming, resource intensive than traditional approach. It require more planning and communication. It might grasp conflicting interests alive. Therefore it’s easy way to choose something else than openness.

If you want to have very extensive outlook for evoluation of strategy practices, you should read Richard Whittington’s book Opening Strategy: Professional Strategists and Practice Change.

From analytical to social skills

There is no doubt that analytical skills are important part of the strategy profession. Still, I see that strategy making process moving eminently a social than analytical side. People need be get onboard early enough to take things actionable. Strategy, design or innovation professional’s role has turned more and more to coaching mode. That means you help people to learn new skills to develop their strategic thinking instead of conducting work by yourself. There is eminent need to have good combination of social, design and analytical skills to be successful strategy professional.

If you like bounce thoughts around innovation or customer insight topics, feel free to connect me in Linkedin.



Antti Seppälä

Perspectives for strategy, design and innovation. Innovation lead in technology industry.