Bigger ideas. Faster.

generalmillsLarge and small companies around the world are using open Connected Innovation strategies to re-invigorate and accelerate their innovation capacity. This movement goes one step beyond the “submit your idea” generation and allows participants to engage in the product development experience.  Here are three examples of Connected Innovation commercially at work:

  • Starbucks built an on-line consumer community called that facilitates open discussion of how to improve the Starbucks experience. Howard Schultz, CEO, claims that has re-invigorated his innovation program by focusing business priorities on customer needs, like free Wi-Fi in all stores
  • won Inc. Magazine’s most innovative company award for 2008 for their “customer as company” business model. Threadless has never had a product intro bomb; they only produce what their customers want to buy
  • Dell Idea Storm is an example of a social media execution. Idea Storm was launched by Michael Dell with the goal of repairing its customer service credentials, but it changed the way Dell does business.  On Idea Storm, customers, programmers, and the like post their ideas for improvement or enhancement.  Due to the successful use of Connected Innovation strategy, Dell has been able to reduce their product development cycle time by 6 months.

Connected Innovation is the business process of using on-line tools like user communities, blogs, innovation portals and social media to mine, connect, and route ideas, employees, consumers, customers, vendors, brands, and technologies. More specifically, on-line communities, innovation portals, and social media strategies not only create new connections, but also allow the extraction of value from these connections.

My employer, General Mills, has given me the opportunity to explore the Connected Innovation concept. Over the course of the next six months, I will benchmark and research the best practices of leading organizations engaged in building connections to evolve their innovation capacity. My research will also provide a framework for building successful Connected Innovation web sites, both inside the corporate firewall and external to customers in a B-C relationship. I will also be a contributor for Minnov8, sharing insights collected along my journey.  I look forward to the opportunity to interview and collaborate with Fortune 500 companies, social media and innovation thought leaders, and the broader digital community.

During the coming months, you can connect with me here at Minnov8, at my personal blog “Perspectives on Connected Innovation and Collaboration”, and on Twitter at I am very interested in engaging in dialogue with you on this subject and look forward to connecting with the broader Minnov8 community.


  1. says

    Don, I was out in Calif all last week and up to my eyeballs when you published this… but I just wanted to welcome you to Minnov8 and wish you well in your sabbatical!


  2. says

    Don, I am in the early stages of a similar corporate quest: Organizing our users and their clients who are also users of our application, into a community for innovation and mutual benefit. Specific goals beyond that are to be determined as we analyze the current inputs and start using new tools. I would like to meet with you, in Minneapolis, and discuss some ideas.



Leave a Comment