Outside Expertise Gives Innovation a Turbo Boost

GE (General Electric) is today a leading digital industrial company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive, and predictive. GE is organized around a global exchange of knowledge, through which each business shares and accesses the same technology, markets, structure, and intellect. In 2014, GE spent $4.5 billion on research and development and they employ nearly 3,000 people in R&D alone.

Dyan Finkhousen leads GE’s open innovation and crowd sourcing. Finkhousen and GE understand that problem solving through advanced manufacturing techniques and processes requires collaboration. They believe that it’s impossible for any organization to have all the best ideas, which led them to exploring new business models, new ways to learn, and new collaboration with experts and entrepreneurs everywhere.

For Finkhousen, finding the right expertise and making the most of it is “both an art and a science.” It takes an open mind and passion for learning as well as clear goals and questions. So Finkhousen and her team make sure they prepare comprehensively whenever they talk to outside experts. They define what project success looks like, why an expert is the right person to talk to, and what understanding they want to walk away with. Then they keep track of what they learn to be smarter moving forward.


I’m Dyan Finkhousen. I lead open innovation and crowd sourcing for GE.

GE is really undertaking a renaissance, if you will.

We have a very aspirational goal in front of us. Evolving from a traditional industrial company to a digital industrial company, which, for us, means new business models.

We decided to set up a Center of Excellence within GE because we knew that there was a lot of power in crowd sourcing and open innovation in really collaborative innovation models.

We’re the innovation super-highway for GE

My customers really very simply are GE business leaders, really anyone throughout GE who is accountable for business outcomes. By giving them access to resources outside of the company, what we do is basically put a bit of a turbo-boost behind that resource base.

GE has a long and very successful history of closed innovation systems, so for 130 years – since Thomas Edison – we have built a very strong stewardship of intellectual property, and for us to open up our business process to people who are not GE employees, requires, really, a leap of faith.

When the GE teams are coming to us for help, generally speaking, that means that they’re considering doing business in a very new and different way. My team has been able to really streamline and codify that protocol.

When we began this journey, we knew that we needed to leverage a lot of what was in place, and that we didn’t have to build everything on our own. That was the key to speed and that was the key for us to learning quickly and effectively.

GLG is really a great match for GE teams who need that expertise on demand.

If the teams across GE want to introduce new perspectives into their innovation process, if they want to access expert pools, we’re able to create a very efficient, innovation transfer system that allows people with the expertise outside of GE to help solve some of the world’s most pressing opportunities by collaborating more effectively with expert communities around the world.

We’re evolving from a traditional large complex global industrial company to a digital industrial company.

Really to be successful in that journey as a company, we have to also find new ways to learn. It’s absolutely critical to our success.

I’m Dyan Finkhousen and I’m GE’s expert on expertise.

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