Word “open” has always caused disruption. For example, open-source software created a big change in the software industry. The world would be very different if there was only closed-source software.
Open innovation is another “open” concept. Open innovation is a company strategy in which resources of a company are open to external agents who can then suggest new products and services. It is the same as open-source software where code is created by people who were not directly engaged on the project. Both open systems depend on initiative by third parties who are usually not engaged with the project but have knowledge of the resources and goals.
Coronavirus crisis is a perfect situation in which open innovation can be very helpful and practical. Currently enormous business capacity is being shut down because the customer behavior and business rules have changed. Companies do not know what to do, but they have enormous resources and are highly motivated to help.
Instead of being blocked, use open innovation to ask customers for suggestions on how to use your resources to fight the crisis. There might be customers who know more about the problems and who can help you create solutions. We are suggesting that you publicly ask everyone to suggest what your company can do to help fight the crisis. You might make a difference.
Additionally, you can use a call to open innovation to adjust your products to new customer behavior. Customers can inform you what suits them best now instead of you trying to guess it. Since this is a sensitive time it is best to be open and ask, and not force solutions via advertising.