Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Open-source science

Harvard Business School researcher Karim Lakhani discusses his recent paper, "The Value of Openness in Scientific Problem Solving" in this inteview in Working Knowledge.

Q: I found it amazing in your research that outsiders were most likely to find a solution.

A: Yes. The problem may reside in one domain of expertise and the solution may reside in another. I‘ve done interviews with scientists who participated by posting problems for broadcast, and most of these scientists were highly skeptical about this method because they considered themselves to be at the top of their discipline. However, they had never thought about the possibility of scientists in other disciplines looking at their problem, reconceptualizing it, and coming up with a solution that could be off-the-shelf. So when they actually see solutions from this type of method, they‘re blown away.

This was not a small study. It covered 166 unique problems across 26 different firms from 10 different countries. The study was conducted over 4.5 years.

The lesson: If you‘re after innovative solutions start by tearing down the walls that surround you. It‘s been demonstrated over-and-over that openness works, and yet it‘s amazing the fervor (there‘s that word again) that people will invoke to protect their comfortable settings. I don‘t get it…

No comments: