This is an old (published 2007) but still a valid paper describing netWork Oasis project in terms of U-theory by Otto Scharmer. Co-writer Tatiana Glotova worked with me at that time in Joensuu Science Park.
Breeding environments for Open Innovation (2007) / paper for ICE Conference
Breeding Environments for Open Innovation
Ilkka Kakko1, Tatiana Glotova2
Joensuu Science Park, Länsikatu 15, 80110, Joensuu, Finland, email@example.com
Joensuu Science Park, Länsikatu 15, 80110, Joensuu, Finland, firstname.lastname@example.org
Authors present wider definition of Open Innovation paradigm that was introduced by Chesbrough. Some
relevant theories and models are discussed in order to give an introduction to the backgrounds of netWork
Oasis project, which is the first real attempt to create a breeding environment that supports wider Open
Innovation paradigm in great extent. Though the application of Scharmer’s U-theory was not a goal during
the design and implementation of Oasis-concept, it appeared to perfectly fit in this case, especially in
situations where the focus is on totally new intersectional innovations. Similarities of Oasis Journey and Utheory are described and needs in further research are formulated.
Co-creation, Co-Innovation, Open Innovation,
Environments, Serendipity Management
Science and technology parks are the vital part of Finnish innovation system. They are
responsible of various development programs and business incubation services. Normally
they are also engaged in real estate business and offering office spaces to let, running
several added services to tenants. Joensuu Science Park in Eastern Finland is widely
known as a forerunner in creating new business models for so called 3rd generation of
netWork Oasis is a development project run by Joensuu Science Park. The basic objective
is to create an environment which is especially designed for the new open innovation
knowledge landscape and networked, global business activities. This unique collaborative
working, learning and development environment was opened for pilot use in December
In this paper we describe the challenges in designing and implementing this new model,
some theoretical background behind it, practical methods used and lessons learned.
netWork Oasis itself will function as a breeding environment for open innovation but we
will also use the whole Oasis project as a case example of successful initiative where some
of the open innovation approaches and methods were used.
We will also open up the discussion of widening the scope of so called “open innovation”
from Henry Chesbrough’s initial definition to public-private partnerships, to “users as
developers” and to “open mind, open heart, open will” – approach originally presented by
Otto Scharmer from MIT Sloan School of Management.
Wider definition to Open Innovation
Chesbrough defines Open Innovation as a process, when valuable ideas may come from
inside and outside the company and can go to market in the same manner (Figure 1).
“Figure depicts the knowledge landscape that results from the flow of internal and external ideas
into and out of firms A and B. Ideas abound in this environment, not only within each firm, but also
outside the firms.” (Chesbrough 2003, p.43)
However Chesbrough is very much concentrating on American big corporations’ approach
and IPR related issues, missing more typical to Europe SMEs’ and even professional
individuals’ networks. To widen his definition of Open Innovation we would like to
include “users as developers” approach, which we followed in netWork Oasis from the
very beginning. This means that valuable ideas may come not only from other companies
or researchers and research groups, but from the end users as well (Von Hippel 2005).
Figure 1: Open Innovation Paradigm. Source: Chesbrough, H., 2003.
If for the big corporations it is a hard task to be able to hear and implement single end
users’ ideas into life, then for the innovation intermediaries it is a challenge and good
opportunity to be able to listen, collect and propose those ideas to a particular company for
further development. If we will go further: users themselves may evaluate, choose and
implement some of the ideas. Therefore today’s business environment is increasingly
looking like an ecosystem.
Another missing aspect of Open Innovation paradigm by Chesbrough is Scharmer’s idea
about Open Mind, Open Heart and Open Will. These three kinds of openness allow a
person or a company to answer to the questions “Who is my Self” and “What is my
Work”? Recently Open Innovation paradigm is too much focused on the actual ideas
exchange without answering the question what is the inner source of those ideas which
appear. Open Mind is a must in Open Innovation knowledge paradigm, while the
importance of Open Heart and Open Will is not that obvious and might be neglected.
In this paper we shall concentrate on the breeding environments that support individuals in
the process of Open Innovation, taking into account our experience in netWork Oasis
including “users as developers” principle, Scharmer’s U-Curve and Oasis Journey. Cosensing, co-presencing and co-creating are the vital parts of Otto Scharmer’s U-theory.
Experiences from netWork Oasis will clearly show that this theory works assuming that
within the implementation process you are able to use appropriate tools and methods. We
will describe some concrete methods which were created and tested in our project.
Underlying models and theories
In this chapter we will discuss some theories and models that are used in netWork Oasis
project. We will also come up with several challenges raised with Open Innovation
paradigm, which will require further research and development.
One of the central ideas that we would like to add to the Open Innovation paradigm is
nicely described by Tom Kelly in his book “The Art of Innovation”, where he points out
very strongly that there is a critical element that every team or company should expect: the
unexpected. This is based on the thousands of projects and historical fact, that innovation
does not come about by central planning. Change offers insights you did not anticipate. It
is a well-accepted truth that inventions and discoveries often result from random accidents
or experiments that went awry.
According to Kelly, to capitalize on this phenomenon, you can start by expecting the
unexpected, being open to surprises from sources within and outside your organization.
Further on he explains:
“Try approaching projects with humility and the knowledge that answers may come from places
you least suspect. We call this “looking cross-eyed” and “cross-pollination”. It’s quite liberating
and powerful. If you expect to find answers from unusual places, it’s far more likely to happen. In
nature, we know that cross-pollination leads to superior strains of plants. It’s the same with
products and services. Launch a project with the assumption that cross-pollination may help you to
innovate, and you’re more likely to be ready to take the leaps of creativity necessary for
innovation”. (Kelley & Littman 2001, p.149)
As accidents happen and no one is able to be aware of them beforehand, Kelley points that
serendipity (Roberts, 1989) plays a critical role in innovation. Serendipity Management as
a new paradigm (see later table 1 in chapter 4) is something that Chesbrough’s concept of
Innovation Intermediaries is missing.
A big challenge is to provide a ground for the Openness explained by Chesbrough and
Kelley. This is a question of the approach how to work in a particular company, but it is
also a question of the surrounding business environment. If the existing business climate is
welcoming ideas’ sharing and is favouring serendipity, then we can say that it supports
Another concept closely related to effective open innovations was presented in 2004 by
Frans Johansson (2004) in his book “The Medici Effect”. He describes two types of
innovations – intersectional and directional. Generating directional innovations is
“business as usual”; leading organizations have well designed processes and environments
to support these types of innovations. Although directional innovations are the norm,
according to Johansson the potential for future breakthrough innovations is much greater
in the field of intersectional innovations. There has not been much research or
development on methodologies and tools in the area of intersectional innovations. It is
evident that there is a business area emerging in this field. Though open innovation
knowledge landscape does not necessarily assume intersectional collaboration, it might be
very beneficial to aim at the diversity of participants of open innovation process. There are
many challenges in trying to co-innovate with partners of completely different
specialisation, but the results may exceed all the expectations.
Open Innovation concept is implicitly present in the idea of Breeding Environments (BE).
“Virtual Organization BE represents an association or pool of organizations and their related
supporting institutions that have both the potential and the will to cooperate with each other through
establishment of a “base” long-term cooperation agreement.” (Camarinha-Matos, 2004)
To explain it briefly we shall share the vision of ECOLEAD, the leading EU project in the
field of collaborative working environments (CWE):
“In ten years, in response to fast changing market conditions, most enterprises and specially the
SMEs will be part of some sustainable collaborative networks that will act as breeding
environments for the formation of dynamic virtual organizations.” (ECOLEAD 2004 - 2008)
Joensuu Science Park is a demonstration and research partner in ECOLEAD. Despite the
parallel and independent development of both, ECOLEAD and netWork Oasis, projects,
we came up with similar ideas about the BE, which provide a platform for fast and trustful
collaboration. IPR issues are supported within the BE as well.
In case of Open Innovation paradigm IPR questions are rising much stronger then in
traditional closed innovation landscape. Ken Arrow noted first the problem called Arrow
Information Paradox, when the customer is willing to know what the technology is and
what it can do before buying it. But once he is introduced to the technology, the seller has
transferred the technology to the customer without any compensation (Chesbrough, 2006).
Innovation Intermediaries, definition introduced by Chesbrough, are one of the possible
solutions to the problem of managing IPR and providing safety support for both parties. In
case of the BEs acting as Intermediaries the environment provider should also take care of
the challenges of Arrow Information Paradox.
An Example of the U-Process of Leading Profound Innovation:
One Process, Seven Elements
Co-inspire a core group
with common intent:
clarify purpose, players
Present results from
living microcosm prototypes
Foundation Workshop: Shared
understanding of purpose,
process, roles & responsibilities
Deep Dive Learning Journeys:
Total immersion in
to learn by doing
Present and generate
Synthesize learning journeys
Create scenarios of emerging futures
Uncover common intention and commitment
Crystallize vision and prototyping initiatives
Figure 2: U-theory. Source: Scharmer, C. O., Jaworski, J. Kahane, A., 2004.
Theories presented above clearly show that a lot of changes in social structures are
emerging. Otto Scharmer has created together with Peter Senge, Betty Sue Flowers and
Joseph Jaworski a theory called “U-theory” (Scharmer et al. 2004). On the Figure 2 some
of the relevant elements of this theory are presented.
“The crisis of our time isn’t just a crisis of a single leader, organization, country, or conflict. The
crisis of our time reveals the dying of an old social structure and way of thinking, an old way of
institutionalizing and enacting collective social forms.” (Scharmer, 2006)
To enable the shift to Open Innovation society leaders need to take into account the five
movements that follow the path of U-curve.
“Co-initiating: listen to what life calls you to do, connect with people and contexts related to that
call, and convene constellations of core players that co-inspire common intention.
Co-sensing: form a core team and take deep-dive learning journeys that bring you to the places of
most potential; observe, and listen with your mind, heart, and will wide open.
Co-presencing: go to the place of individual and collective stillness, open up to the source of
creativity and presence, and link to the future that wants to emerge through you.
Co-creating: build landing strips of the future by prototyping living microcosms in order to explore
the future by doing.
Co-evolving: co-develop a larger innovation ecosystem that connects people and their actions
across boundaries through seeing and acting from the whole.” (Scharmer, 2006)
In the next chapter we shall describe in more details how the U-curve was experienced in
building netWork Oasis BE in order to support Open Innovation in a wider meaning
presented above, and how we shall go further with it.
Findings: netWork Oasis case
netWork Oasis in Joensuu Science Park, Finland, is an unique collaborative work,
learning and development environment, where people from different organisations are
working and interacting together in the same physical and virtual space. It was opened for
pilot use in December 2006. The project has taken more than four years and from the
beginning one of the leading principles has been “users as developers”. In conceptual
planning the potential future users of Oasis had a key role and during the design and
implementation phases open innovation principles were used widely. In this chapter we
will present several findings while explaining “Oasis Journey”. There are a lot of
similarities with an example of the U-process of Leading Profound Innovation described
earlier in figure 2.
Oasis Seven Steps: “Oasis Journey”
Oasis Cottage Network
netWork Oasis implementation
Training Camp and monthly
workshops during the first year
FlexLab pilot and Oasis
planning and design,
updating the Oasis
Business Day and FlexLab
Valamo, Oasis Cottage Network
environments, outdoor activities,
Oasis Tribe of diverse
Figure 3. U-Curve: netWork Oasis adaptation – Oasis Journey
The foundations for the whole netWork Oasis project were built in an Oasis Cottage
Network project where the core team was formulated and the preliminary visions for
further development created. At that point the ambition level and also the resources
available were low but despite of that this first step was vital and it had to be taken,
otherwise the whole journey would not have started at all.
The starting point of the collaborative and multidisciplinary work on the netWork Oasis
conceptual planning was the Kick-Off Meeting and Training Camp in February 2004. The
message about planned Training Camp was given to those core tribe members found in
Oasis Cottage Network project and their task was to introduce this idea to potentially
interested persons in their personal networks.
Expectations for 15 persons to participate were totally exceeded and the number of
participants had to be restricted to 50 persons because of practical matters. Some of the
participants were three ‘handshakes’ away from the first circle. Persons from different
backgrounds in the areas of science, art and business were present. The aim to get high
degree of diversity was also perfectly achieved while the age diversity was from 20 to 70
years, geographical and cultural diversity – from Finland to New Zealand – and
professional diversity – from entrepreneurs to students and from professors to corporate
artists (Kakko & Lavikainen & Glotova, 2006).
The goal for the Training Camp was to create a multidisciplinary planning group with
abilities to work together towards the given vision. The goal was achieved by using
personal networks in inviting people, forgetting the previous achievements of each
participant (no CV’s), focusing on personal motivation, abilities to work in different
groups and understanding the given vision. In all these areas this Training Camp approach
turned out to be a great solution.
The following workshops were organized soon after the Training Camp. In the first two
ones the main aim was to create a shared understanding about the actions needed. A
professional facilitator was used but some of the methods were developed while working.
One very useful method was named as “Walk and Talk” where the beautiful surroundings
of Joensuu Science Park were used for 15-20 minutes walks in pairs or threesomes.
During the walk on lake and river shores some task was discussed and the results were
then reported after the walk in the workshop premises.
Some key values of Oasis tribe – like respect the serendipity and create co-discovery –
were found and they were followed throughout the project, or as later noticed “journey”.
The first cornerstones for Serendipity Management paradigm were also developed.
This phase was also characterized not only by workshops but also by several social events,
outdoor activities and visits to Valamo monastery. The later served as a preparation step
In the following events, workshops and intensive interaction in our Oasis Garden,
interactive virtual environment, the focus was in crystallizing our vision and keeping the
co-inspiration supported. Some serendipitous interactions happened also in this phase
although the Training Camp was the real serendipity supporter. The journey was in these
stages empowered with a lot of motivation and also very diverse ambitions. The big
challenge here was how to manage the diversity and how to keep the shared understanding
alive. One of the hardest tasks was how to get the focus towards the actual design and
implementation and how to get some results as quickly as possible. The “brainstorming
mode” was still on and it was a challenging task to change it via learning journey to
piloting activities. The outcome was satisfactory but could have been better. The
importance of getting something visible and something concrete created was immense. In
our case it took too long to change from this co-presensing into the co-creating.
Serendipity Management paradigm was further developed and documented. Especially the
vital elements, like trust building and network incubation in order to create new
combinations of competences, were tested.
The decision to build a test environment, the FlexLab, was taken and it helped a lot in
moving towards the next phase: prototyping and piloting.
In our case we felt that although Scharmer et al are describing this U-Curve and the
critical moments when getting connected to your higher potential in theory, the tools and
usable working methods are not easily available. The facilitation with meditation and
other unconventional business methods caused some anxiety and even disturbance in some
personal interactions and that should have taken into account much more closely. Due to
the financial reasons and tight schedule we were not able to use four-five day “solo
experiences” which referring to Scharmer have proved to be very fruitful in this phase.
This deepest moment of the U-curve needs to be closer researched in order to find new
tools and methods for business usage as well. For us the visits to monastery and various
outdoor activities turned out to be the only ways to try to get connected to the highest
Rapid prototyping and piloting the new methods in FlexLab testing environment enabled
totally new ways of thinking. While working everyday in “Oasis-like”- environment with
some real customers also involved the development group was able to get the feel and
touch of the real world. This also turned out to be important for the designing of the actual
Oasis. Some of the early layout plans were re-designed and the investment budget also restructured. The result was a cheaper and also better functioning environment where the
needs of everyday user are fulfilled.
Although this co-creation phase is still on in the real Oasis environment now we have
already started a new round of this U-curve process while ending up with the new vision
of netWork Oasis. The vision for netWork Oasis now is:
“Joensuu region and netWork Oasis will be known in the year 2010 as one of the leading actors in
designing and implementing productive Collaborative Working Environments (CWE) for open
innovation. The research and development activities in this field have created a centre of
competence which is connected to a network of Open Innovation Centres globally.”
So what actually happens is that this U-processes form a kind of a spiral with new cosensing, co-presensing and co-creating phases. After four years of designing and planning
activities and after the successful implementation of the first netWork Oasis environment
in Joensuu Finland we are also able to summarise some of the differences between original
Project Management and Serendipity Management which we have formulated and used
throughout the Oasis journey (Table 1).
Type of innovation
human Homo faber
Homo faber, Homo ludens,
Fixed in the beginning
Flexible during the process
Best possible result in the end
Goal decided in the beginning
Vision decided in the beginning
While defining the project
Training camp approach
Resources, time schedule
Command and control
Connectivity and collaboration
Table 1: Project Management vs. Serendipity Management. A comparison of two management
paradigms. (Kakko, Inkinen 2007)
Open Innovation paradigm should be widened to “Users as developers” principle and even
towards Scharmer’s U-theory, where open mind, open heart and open will are the key
elements in creating profound innovations.
netWork Oasis in Joensuu Science Park is the first real attempt to create an environment
which supports this wider open innovation paradigm in great extent. It is now open for
real usage of everyday customers and will also serve as a perfect test-bed for open
innovation related research in the future.
During the design and implementation of Oasis-concept we found out that Scharmer’s UProcess of Leading Profound Innovation fits very well to our case, especially in situations
where the focus is on totally new intersectional innovations. Further research and
development is needed especially concerning the deepest moment of U-curve where you
get connected to your highest potential. The tools and working methods should be also
further evaluated and developed. While following our Oasis journey we were able to
create the basic cornerstones of a new management paradigm: Serendipity Management.
Some new tools and methods were designed and introduced namely Training Camp,
“Walk and Talk”, various creativity supporting outdoor activities and also the “mind-shift”
procedures between monastery, office environment and Oasis Cottage Network in
This work has been partly funded by the European Commission through ECOLEAD Project. The authors wish
to acknowledge the Commission for the support. We would like to thank also the whole Oasis Tribe in inspiring
us to make things to happen.
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