Open Innovation

Solve your organization’s problems by looking outside your organization

In Open Innovation, you will learn strategies for finding the best ideas, solutions, and people necessary to solve your organization’s most difficult problems.

Featuring faculty from:
October 2023
6 weeks
2-4 hours per week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Applications Close
January 2024
6 weeks
2-4 hours a week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Applications Close
Enroll in Open Innovation Today

What You'll Learn

What do you do when your organization can’t solve a problem on its own? Are you paying for effort instead of solutions? Is your organization stuck?

Strategic problem solving is a key element in innovation and vital to an organization’s success and growth. Open innovation is a strategy for innovation management that suggests the best ideas and people necessary to solve your organization’s difficult problems may come from outside your company entirely. Through open innovation, organizations can connect with talented people and breakthrough ideas from across the globe. Whether you’re developing a new product, responding to the changing workforce, or simply looking for new ideas, you can use open innovation to find answers and solutions in areas you didn’t expect.  

Open innovation strategy is already all around you. The top companies around the world have figured out the key to innovation in business by using idea crowdsourcing and the wisdom of the crowd to help them create products and services that we use on a daily basis—from smartphone apps to Wikipedia. 

This is an innovation management course that presents a foundational understanding of open innovation, helping you not only solve some of your most difficult problems, but also gain access to a pool of talent that goes far beyond your organization's walls. By examining the different types of open innovation—contests, idea crowdsourcing for business, collaborative communities, and online labor markets—you’ll begin to develop a plan to adopt and implement an open innovation strategy in your organization. 

Through videos, real-world case studies, and peer interaction, you’ll build innovation skills, explore when and why to implement new solutions, how to operationalize and protect proprietary ideas, and, most importantly, how to identify the problems you’re trying to solve and address them with open innovation. 

Your next big idea might come from where you least expect it. Don’t think behind closed doors. Let open innovation in.

The course is part of the Harvard on Digital Learning Path and will be delivered via HBS Online’s course platform. Learners will be immersed in real-world examples from experts at industry-leading organizations. By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate the concept of open innovation and how it works
  • Identify the types of problems that can be solved with open innovation and how to decouple problems from solutions
  • Recognize ​the challenges and ethical considerations of open innovation, such as intellectual property rights
  • Match your business problem to the right open innovation strategy, including: contests, idea crowdsourcing, collaborative communities, or online labor market
  • Implement an open innovation strategy in your organization, including how to identify and access outside resources, helping you stay ahead of the competition

Your Instructor

Karim R. Lakhani is the Dorothy & Michael Hintze Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He specializes in technology management, innovation, digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI). He has taught extensively in Harvard Business School’s MBA, executive, doctoral and online programs. He has co-developed new courses on Digital Innovation & Transformation, Digital Strategy and Innovation, and Laboratory to Market. Karim is also the founder and co-director of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard, as well as the principal investigator of the NASA Tournament Laboratory.

Real World Case Studies

Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

Jin Paik

Jin Paik

Jin Paik is the Senior Director, Lab Operations at the Digital, Data, & Design (D^3) Institute at Harvard. Hear from this expert researcher how open innovation can illuminate novel solutions for your organization. 

Luis Villa

Luis Villa

Luis Villa is the Co-Founder and General Counsel of Tidelift, a startup that aims to make open source better for everyone by supporting developers. He will share how open innovation can attract talented employees to your organization.

Lynn Buqou

Lynn E. Buquo

Lynn Buquo is the Former Senior Advisor at the NASA Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation. She will share how NASA is adopting open innovation into their organization.

Who Will Benefit

Icon Changemaker

Research and Development Teams

Access resources and learn how to find new ideas for products and solutions



Discover how to leverage the crowd and find the next breakthrough idea systematically

Leader Icon

Innovative Leaders

Grow your business by knowing when and how to integrate open innovation into your organization

Learner Testimonials

"This course was worth my time and I thoroughly enjoyed communicating and learning with innovative thinkers from around the world. This was a great experience, and I am grateful my administration invested in me in this way to continue learning and growing so I could better do my job and help more humans."

Dr. Lindsey Keith-Vincent
Associate Dean for  Research, Outreach, and Innovation in the College of Education
Director of the Science and Technology Education Center (SciTEC)
Louisiana Tech University

"Since I have already studied Open Innovation for my PhD, I am impressed by all the new knowledge and insights that I have gained. I like the different perspectives and the great case studies, which have been very supportive in many ways."

Prof. Dr. Rafaela Kunz
Professor of International Management, Technology and Innovation
Hochschule Fresenius

"This course provides enough details, tips, and real-world examples to utilize open innovation as a strategy within any organization. It helped explain the different tools, platforms, tactics, and flexibilities to use depending on the business outcomes required. This course saves a lot of time in understanding all the nuances of open innovation rather than learning it on the job. I should have taken this course earlier!"

Ed Wong
Director of Possibilities

"I work in marketing, and am always looking for new ideas to develop and implement constant innovation. The content, cases, and examples helped me understand how this topic is applies in real life, and definitely added lots of value to my professional interest. I am likely to leverage this knowledge in my career."

Thelma Trinidad
Marketing Consultant
Fast Moving Consumer Goods


Learning Requirements: There are no required prerequisites to enroll in this course. To earn a Certificate of Completion from Harvard Online, participants must thoughtfully complete modules 1-6 by stated deadlines.

  • Study the NASA case on fostering a culture of open innovation.
  • Identify the benefits of open innovation and how it can be applied.
  • Evaluate and compare open innovation strategy to traditional problem solving methods.
  • Study the HYVE case to understand problem formulation and iterative design.
  • Understand why problem formulation is critical to a problem holder’s ability to find the best solution.
  • Identify barriers associated with problem formulation, and learn how to overcome those barriers.
  • Study the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute case to learn about their contests for medical imaging AI.
  • Understand how and why contests work and the benefits and challenges presented by open innovation contests.
  • Develop a plan for an open innovation contest for your organization.
  • Study the Tidelift case's examples of innovation and open source software for all. 
  • Explore the potential benefits of collaborating with or creating a community.
  • Identify the management challenges of working with communities and how to address them.
  • Study the Freelancer case to learn about unlocking the potential of online labor markets.
  • Examine the supply and the demand sides of online labor markets.
  • Identify and overcome barriers to adopting labor markets in your organization.
  • Revisit the NASA case to understand how they scaled open innovation
  • Understand how to overcome barriers to adoption and scaling.
  • Prepare a plan to pilot and scale an open innovation solution for your organization.

Earn Your Certificate

Enroll today in Harvard Online's Open Innovation course.

Apply Now

Still Have Questions?

Are there discounts available for this course? What are the learning requirements? How do I list my certificate on my resume? Learn the answers to these and more in our FAQs.


Open Innovation Certificate Sample

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