Build a startup inside a bigger organization for the best innovation strategy!
It’s an axiom of business that the bigger you are, the slower you move. In innovation strategy, that can make the difference between being first to market with a game-changer and trailing behind smaller, nimbler companies. But you can give your business the flexibility of a startup, if you know the startup principles to apply in your company.
Find Your Entrepreneurs
Every big business has entrepreneurs in its ranks. It could be an engineer passing on notes about how to improve or refine a product. It could be a former entrepreneur that joined the business by being bought out or sold their company and switched to the more established end of the business spectrum. You have entrepreneurs somewhere in your ranks, and it’s important to find them and get them to step forward to lead efforts in innovation.
Refine What You Have
A good place to start is with what you have. Many big corporations looking to bolster innovation start with what they already have in place. This is especially important for companies that have been doing things “the same way” for years or even decades. The larger a body is, the more inertia it has, and that’s as true of enterprise as it is of physics.
It’s also a gentler start. Tearing it all down and building it again is easy for a startup to do, but trickier when a company has a dozen plants and five office parks. Spotting inefficiencies or improvements, whether it’s applying new technologies to your manufacturing process or new theories to the management structure, is much easier and can yield surprising gains.
Big and nimble aren’t mutually exclusive.
Part of the reason that big organizations can struggle with innovation strategy is that there’s a multitude of moving parts. One decision in one department can trigger a string of dominoes that can fall with unexpected consequences, positive or negative. It’s only fair that those affected have a say in the process; after all, we’ve all had a moment where a decision made elsewhere blows back on us.
The best way to encourage innovation is to make your “startup” as separate from these processes as possible. This has two advantages, in that it makes your team of innovators more nimble and it makes it easier for everyone affected by potential changes to see them in action without having to hit the panic button. In fact, seeing this in action might push your larger organization to be more innovative. Don’t forget about the viral power of good ideas.
Finally, always remember that innovation is a process more complicated than it appears. Few ideas ever spring fully formed from the mind of an inventor. More often than not your team will have the basic idea and then need to refine it, toy with it, bust through the problems, and sometimes even smash the whole thing and reassemble it from the pieces.
So, have a little patience with your team and their innovation strategy. Give them room to work, and the resources they need. Any strategy needs a little time to take form, and patience offers rewards. If you’re ready to start down the path to a stronger innovation strategy, download Creative Rewards to Incentivize Engagement.