28 November 2013

The Corporate Innovator

2 interesting tidbits came to my attention recently. All around the role of innovation and entrepreneurship (intrapreneurship?) in corporates. Having played a bit in this space at FNB, this subject always fascinates me.

Let's face it. Startups are amazing. The control, the pride, the ability to pick a path and follow it... But very, very few grow to be the size of some of our South African corporate companies. And if you really, really want to move the needle - that's where you have to go. 

Unfortunately, you've got to put up with 10-15 years of everything that's bad with a corporate to get into a position that'll allow you to achieve this. 

Have a quick read. Are you one of these people? :)

First article. Why Corporate Innovation Is So Difficult by Jeffrey Phillips. It has a great summary:

So tip your hat to the corporate innovator.  She's got to overcome a significant amount of inertia and risk, convince an executive team of the need for innovation, then fight to keep the scope of the project as large and as disruptive as possible.  She's got to overcome existing allocations and fight for resources.  She has to overcome cultural biases against risk and uncertainty.  And, once she's succeeded at creating valuable, interesting ideas, she's only really begun to fight.  With a good idea, she needs to convince the development team to make it, the IT team to support it, and the corporation to launch it.  

Having been both an entrepreneur and a corporate innovator, I can tell you there's no contest.  Corporate innovators have the toughest job.  I'll always take the role where I am 100% responsible and control 100% of the decisions and resources and get to make up the processes and decisions as I go, rather than be bound by years of culture and decision making, in a culture that is trained to be risk adverse.

Second article. 8 New Jobs People will have in 2025 by Ben Schiller. Job #6 is exactly what we're talking about and a nice counter balance to the challenges talked about above.

CORPORATE DISORGANIZER: Big companies want to be more like startups, seeing innovation as vital to future profits. Young says they'll want "corporate disorganizers" who can introduce a little "organized chaos." Young says: "The disruptor will be tapping into the new systems of the collaborative economy, creating greater fragmentation and a more distributed ecosystem."