"If you look at most of the widely cited examples of successful open innovation, the model in use poses a question to a group of "solvers" who then provide an answer. You might call this the transactional model of open innovation — involving only narrowly defined, short-term transactions. Problem posted, solution offered, payment made, transaction completed, all parties move on.
This approach has two limitations. First, it misses the opportunity to build long-term trust-based relationships among participants. Second, it does not encourage participants to build cumulatively upon the contributions of others.
Why do relationships matter more than mere transactions? Transactions work when explicit knowledge is involved — problems must be precisely framed and solutions must be equally precisely articulated. Of course, this works for a certain class of problems but some of the most challenging problems cannot be precisely framed — that is part of the problem. On the other side, really challenging problems require tapping into the tacit knowledge possessed by more than one individual in order to create new knowledge and generate a workable solution."
Here's a very timely article by John Hagel and John Seely Brown on the next evolution of open innovation: moving from 'transactional' to 'relationship-based' models. I couldn't agree more. We've been promoting the need for companies to develop and expand their ecosystems and there is an increasing groundswell of thought leadership supporting this concept.
I often say that in this new world of collaborative and connected innovation, winning won't be about who has the best technology... but rather who has the best relationships.
(Thanks to Deepak Ramachandran at Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations for the link).