Last week I spent a few days at the inaugural edition of the Open Innovation Summit. Considering this was the first year for the event and that December is not a great month to host conferences in, I think it was well attended. The conference had a single track of speakers, and most of them were very high quality. Some of the speaker that I most enjoyed were: Phil McKinney of HP, Russ Conser of Shell, Pramod Reddy of P&G, Moises Norena of Whirlpool, Helene Rutledge of GSK, Ed Rinker of Clorox, and Greg Fox of Cisco. Of course, these conferences are great for networking and meeting people, but I like to learn from others at an event like this. Here are some of the key themes I heard at the event that are important lessons for us all. •Innovation, open or otherwise, can’t succeed if it is viewed as an idea generation & capture process that is divorced from business execution. •Executive sponsorship is vital not just to provide the funding and mandate, but also to provide air cover during the initial stages of an innovation initiative. •Internal promotion of innovation is needed, but remember to promote the value of what has been accomplished, not what you plan to do. People find comfort in the concrete benefit of what is already done, but the fuzzy future finds factions fleeing for the doors. •Don’t dismiss the intellectual property aspects of open innovation. Considered up front, they are easily managed, but left as an afterthought they can be an innovation killer. •Equip your people with the skills and tools they need for success. •Make sure you have sorted out you internal innovation before engaging in open innovation. The point of open innovation is to kick your internal capabilities into high gear by optimally integrating external constituencies into your process. This can be difficult if you haven’t first established your process.