What learning emerges on an organizational journey of open innovation? For those who view learning as an art, there are skills that can be developed whereby the crafts of innovating are elevated with creativity. For those who view learning as a science, accumulating a rich body of data is the first step towards building theories.

Organizational learning can be a long cumulative process, punctuated by periods of rapid change. In a layered theory of change, Stewart Brand writes: “Fast gets all our attention; slow has all the power” (Brand 1999, 34). Positive results from embracing open innovation can certainly draw attention. A capability to sustain open innovation can have longer lasting power.

How should a reader navigate the scholarly exposition in this book? A fast read skimming across the chapters may be most fruitful in surfacing ideas most relevant to personal interests.

A manager with a bias towards action may read the introduction in Chapter 1, and then delve most deeply into the normative theories in Chapter 9. This path serves practitioners who are less interested in history, and more focused on putting theories into practice.

A consultant may jump from the outlines in Chapter 1 to the descriptive theories in Chapters 6, 7, and 8. Establishing a program of measuring progress on organizational learning that sustains open innovation can be based on tracking a variety of indicators over time.

A business historian may be most interested in the cases summarized in Chapter 4, and the contexts described in Chapter 5. These lead into extended histories in Appendices A and B. The shifts associated with the rise of the Internet, e-business and globalization from 2001 to 2011 can be observed from the perspective of individuals who were instrumental in the changes.

A policy advisor may be most drawn to the details of open source licensing grounding the behaviours of open sourcing while private sourcing in Chapter 2. Participating and sharing in a commons can accelerate innovation, but running afoul of intellectual property constraints will bog down subsequent progress.

A social theorist or business philosopher may appreciate the richness in the extended footnotes embedded in each chapter. Embracing multiple scientific paradigms within a single book calls for deeper explanations of concepts and terms used, and a long list of references for follow through.

For those who are visual learners, the figures and the tables in the book may serve to reduce the cognitive load of reading. When I am in a stand up presentation of content, those are most likely that images that would appear on the projection screen behind me.

This book is being released in both electronic and paper-based forms, simultaneously. For a reference work, the search function and rapid navigation through an ebook is an affordance that sequential physicality does not support.

Open innovation learning is nonlinear. The writing in this book is sympathetic to that orientation.

David Ing
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
November 2017