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On the hunt for quality

Helsinki Airport and Finnair ran an open innovation project called Quality Hunters. We can learn something from it.

Photo of Arjan Tupan
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Quality Hunters was a project by Finavia and Finnair, aimed at finding improvement opportunities for Helsinki Airport and Finnair. It ran for 2 seasons and an addendum. I participated in season 2.

Here’s how season 2 worked, more or less. After a selection procedure, 7 bloggers were selected to travel the routes of Finnair for a month, reporting on anything they could find in their respective categories. The categories, of course, were about areas in which both Finavia as Finnair thought they could improve their products and services. The 7 Quality Hunters would blog about their findings, which would be a starting point for the wider community to discuss about service improvement at the airport and the airline. From the community, one member was selected to join the 7 Quality Hunters in the final week. I had the good fortune of being selected the 8th Quality Hunter.

As a final touch, the Quality Hunters were asked to prepare a presentation with the best things they found, and what they would recommend, for a meeting of staff from both Finavia (the company running Helsinki Airport) and Finnair.

I also participated in the addendum, or season 3, which had a completely different setup. Active participants from season 2 were invited to join workshops in Helsinki, to define new and improved services.

This example shows, there are several ways to ‘do’ open innovation. Although there are quite a few differences with the OpenIDEO approach, I also noticed two important similarities. First of all, both versions of open innovation are based on a well-defined structure, of which parts are open to the public to contribute. Secondly, one of the big reasons the Quality Hunters project was successful, was their unrelenting focus on engaging community members. On all social channels available, there would be a constant stream of information, discussions, but also targeted challenges. The community managers really put a great effort in addressing their audience on a very personal level. It was inspiring, and in my experience, drove participation.

What are other incarnations of open innovation you came across?

What do you think are elements that can make or break an open innovation process?


More about Quality Hunters here.

If you'd like your name to appear in our report on open innovation, please include it below as you'd like it to appear.

Arjan Tupan

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Arjan, thanks for sharing. 
I think this is a great example of exploring open innovation. 
You've stressed two important points:
1. the role of the community / public: when does it start? when does it end?
This also reminds me of the video of HitRecord posted by Meena as the director was really clear about who was making the final decision, i.e. in his case, himself.
2. the importance of engaging the community... it also raises for me the question of the community. like you I feel that openIDEO is a community but often when I've presented my research in conferences and seminars people have a hard time to think of openIDEO as a community (that they would contrast with opensource or wikipedia) because of the structure around challenges. A question I often get is "Is this a community or a multitude of challenge-based communities? ... I have my answer but I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

Photo of Shane Zhao

Thanks Arjan, this is really fascinating. I love how Quality Hunters is giving bloggers a channel to share findings from in the field — which is a contrast from submitting research from behind a computer. And it's great to see how community members were an integral part of the show. So cool to see you as the 8th Quality Hunter!

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Good point about calling it "reporting from the field" Shane Zhao ! There's a good connection to the Field Immersions for In-Depth Investigation idea of Aaron Wong , it appears.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Good point, Anne-Laure. How I experienced OpenIDEO, is really as one community. The evidence for that lies, amongst many things, in the fact that we know eachother already from previous challenges on the platform. What I also saw, and what was maybe extra clear in challenges such as Open Planet Ideas and one I believe was from the Knight Foundation, is that with each challenge, the community grows (also, some community member might choose to sit out a challenge, but that's a different story). And the community not only grows with people who will become OpenIDEO community members, but also with people who are only in for one challenge. It's like a town that organises a yearly festival. The town is the community, the festival belongs to the community, and so do the festival goers from out of town. Even if only for the duration of that festival.
Is this comparable to what you see. I'm curious to your answer now :)

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks Arjan. I had the same experience than you and my observations also show a sense of community if only through the similar practices, communicative styles that have been enacted over time. Some do know each other from other challenges although the core group that emerged in the first year or so is less "obvious" (I could list people during the first 2 years who were part of this core group. It'd be harder for me to do).  It is partly due as you noted to the growth of the community. Yet, I still believe there is  a continuity across challenges and that people feel a sense of belonging to openIDEO, not to one specific challenge, even if they might have some specific interests (and thus participate to some types of challenges rather than others).
I like your metaphor of the town and the festivals. Thanks!