by Alph Bingham and Dwayne Spradlin
This blog is the second installation of a four part series: ”The Profound Importance of Challenges,” by Dwayne Spradlin and Alph Bingham, authors of The Open Innovation Marketplace, published in 2011 by FT Press.
To read the other posts in this series, click on the links below:
Clearly the notion of a challenge as a tremendously powerful and versatile tool for innovation is gaining credibility quickly. We explored this idea in depth in our book “The Open Innovation Marketplace: Creating Value in the Challenge Driven Enterprise” published this year by FT Press. Below and over the next few weeks we share some of the discussion on Challenges from our book and would love to have your thoughts and feedback. Enjoy!
What Is a Challenge?
Dictionary.com defines a “challenge” as “a summons to engage in any contest” or as “a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it.” However, it is much more. Well-constructed “Challenges” are an astonishingly powerful and uniquely effective tool for focusing the energies of multitudes of creative, inventive, talented people on the important problems facing organizations, nations, and the planet on which we live.
The Challenge is core to InnoCentive’s business, and its power has been on display now for several years. We see early, though isolated, glimpses of this approach throughout history well before InnoCentive’s founding. Striking examples of its use range from the Longitude Prize offered by British Parliament in the 1700s to the Ortiz Prize that induced Charles Lindbergh to cross the Atlantic. It has been shown to have broad and general applicability.
InnoCentive has more experience with Challenges than any organization in the world and provides an intriguing sampling of the potential of Challenges in areas as diverse as business entrepreneurship, life sciences, mathematics, and manufacturing.
Challenges can deliver breakthrough strategies or highly technical solutions and apply to every business function and every type of problem, large and small, strategic and tactical.
But Why Does It Work?
We first began to understand the Challenge as a powerful business tool a few short years ago. It was at this time that a number of key concepts were beginning to converge, namely that a Challenge exhibits three important properties. The Challenge is:
- The fundamental unit of problem solving;
- A better way to organize (and distribute) work; and
- A powerful strategy tool.
Over the next few weeks, we will explore each of these three properties in more depth.
Dwayne Spradlin and Alph Bingham