The fourth week: Starting to taste the secret sauce

In phase 4 of the REMODEL programme, it is now time to dig deeper and start imagining how the open source mechanisms can be applied concretely in the business strategy of the companies’ products. The secret sauce? Not the open source bit, but rather the magic of building community.

© Agnete Schlichtkrull

We have now stepped into Phase 4 of the REMODEL programme and have thereby reached the half-way marker. This brings the 10 Danish manufacturing companies, who are exploring new business strategies and models based on open source principles, to the level where they start to have an overview what it takes to go open and harness the full potential of inviting users and customers to join the community surrounding their product and to take an active, contributing role by becoming co-creators.

Up until now – in the first three phases of REMODEL – we have mostly been laying down the foundation for understanding what open source is and how it can potentially be applied to not only software and virtual products, but also on physical products and hardware. With this understanding more firmly in place it is now time to dig deeper and start imagining how the open source mechanisms can be applied concretely in business strategy of the companies’ products.

“Honestly, the system map was a true pain in the ass in the beginning as we could not really make it work. Instead, we tried to make some sketches on paper, and once they were done we tried again. Second time around it materialized!”

Phase 4 – Building community and your system map

In this 4th phase of the REMODEL program the companies started to lay the foundation for establishing a community around their product. First they mapped their existing eco-system of stakeholders – from users (or customers) to collaborators, partners and external influencers – before diving into re-imagining what the full scope of the “system” around their product needs to look like in order to potentially create and maintain a community of co-creators to boost innovation and product development. This is done through an exercise called “the system map” – developed by Nicola Morelli of Aalborg University – which helps map money flows, assets building, human resources needed and other critical factors the companies need to put efforts into facilitating (and engaging with), as well as how all these connect to each other. In essence, you visualize the apparatus needed to develop, manufacture and sell the product including all the elements and their interconnectedness. One key exercise we have added in the REMODEL program is then to subsequently identify which of these elements could be open sourced in order to optimize value creation. Here is an example of what that looks like:

What did we learn? Open sourcing hardware is complex

Major learnings are really starting to pour in from the work done by the 10 companies as they have reached this phase of the program. For instance, it is becoming more and more apparent that open sourcing hardware is much more complicated than open sourcing software. One on hand because these days most physical products comprise of several elements that are not physical, ie. services, software or other virtual elements that are essential to the application of the physical product but not directly a part of it. For instance online platforms, data streams and even services, which may just as well be opened. But does that this make the product itself open? Concretely, in the REMODEL program, we have included a reworked version the Open-o-meter tool, made by Jerémy Bonvoisin, NAME and NAME, which does a really good job at defining exactly what makes physical products open.