Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2016

Open Innovation at Fujitsu (A)

by Amy C. Edmondson and Jean-François Harvey

Abstract

This case study examines the open innovation journey at Fujitsu, a global information and communication technology company. The case ends with the location decision between Tokyo, Japan, downtown San Francisco or Sunnyvale, California, regarding establishing a small unit for the purpose of institutionalizing Fujitsu’s open innovation journey. Mohi Ahmed, together with Mikito Kiname and Tango Matsumoto, embarked on the journey to strengthen Fujitsu’s marketing and innovation platform in North America, and to transform the company’s innovation culture by making the Japanese giant more open and leaner in its approach to innovation. In the past, Fujitsu struggled with opening up its innovation process in Silicon Valley: partnering with other organizations to integrate outside technology in its products and services; spinning out unexploited technology had proved challenging. With input from thinkers and practitioners inside and outside of Fujitsu, Ahmed identified the maker movement as a potential avenue to begin Fujitsu’s open innovation journey because of the significance of Monozukuri (art and science of making) in the company’s origin. He engaged with Mark Hatch, CEO of TechShop Inc., a fast-growing chain of member-based maker spaces, in a conversation about how companies could focus on “doing well by doing good,” and they jointly initiated four projects on which they could collaborate. Ahmed planned to leverage these projects to transform Fujitsu’s innovation culture by illustrating that the company could successfully engage in exploration with new external partners, and could move quickly into experimentation to accelerate learning and innovation. This case also shows how two very different organizations managed to team across boundaries. Doing so, it emphasizes the human side of inter-organizational collaboration by highlighting leadership activities that served to develop a shared vision, nurture psychological safety, leverage collective capabilities, and promote execution-as-learning.

Keywords: open innovation; collaboration; culture change; change management; leadership; Japan; United States; inter-organizational relationships; teaming; maker movement; nascent industries; Change Management; Leading Change; Organizational Culture; Emerging Markets; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Information Technology Industry; Technology Industry; Sunnyvale; Tokyo; San Francisco;

Citation:

Edmondson, Amy C., and Jean-François Harvey. "Open Innovation at Fujitsu (A)." Harvard Business School Case 616-034, January 2016.