Open innovation is about bringing together the "wisdom of a empathetic and discerning crowd" to solve some of the greatest challenges that impede the quality of human lives. For me, open innovation can be "small" or "big". It can positively impact the life of one individual or a collective whole. Till the time it solves a problem that had undermined the quality of a human being's existence, it is an open innovation.
Starting from an initiative to teach a poor woman in India life skills so that she can search for gainful employment to finding solutions that can solve China's city-level environmental problems, open innovation works across this spectrum. Open innovation is not about building nifty gadgets only. It can be about finding a process that leads to an optimum output, finding time to look at things differently, a change in outlook that leads to a different result or even a change in mindset that elevates quality of life.
Some of the greatest open innovations in terms of their collective impact on human lives have been about finding solutions or new ways of working for existing materials and assets that we have at hand. Open innovation should be about "free thinking" and "conscientious value creation". Here the concepts of "free" and "value" are linked to elevating human lives. Open innovation does not and should not require investments of huge amounts of money, application of complex plans and involvement of too many stakeholders.
Open innovation can only make an impact when few collective minds, with wider unhindered participation, have the freedom to think and apply freely. From finding solutions to make water available in remote villages, to the provision of better sanitation facilities, to provide the tools and empowerment to prevent diseases, to find alternate uses of farm land and to finding novel and innovative applications of renewable energy, open innovation solutions in all these domains have been possible only through free and creative thinking.
To sum it all up, open innovation is about using everything within your reach and availability to solve challenges that impede the quality of human lives. Money is important for the application, but the start must be made using two of the greatest resources that are always free - thinking and time.