New Ventures, Radical Innovation

by Stefan Lindegaard

New Ventures, Radical InnovationI was recently asked some good questions by a corporate innovator, who is looking into corporate business plan competitions and how to work with new ventures. You can read her questions below where I also give my brief responses. It would be great if you can chip in with some insigths as well.

First, her introductory note, which went like this “When companies invest in innovative ideas as a result of a competition or the like, they get to a point where they need to fund the ideas. I see many companies are allocating an “innovation” budget up front, which is clever. When you don’t have this though, it can be tricky. My questions are however about resources.”

Here they come:

Q: Will most companies use those funds to hire external people to work on the innovative ideas that were proposed by their internal staff or will they allow their staff to create a team around their idea and run with it?

A: This will most often be a mix although I definitely hope the companies will keep a strong focus on their internal resources. You need external perspectives and you should definitely also consider an open innovation / external partnership approach early on, but the key to success is for your own people to be given the right framework and conditions for them to succeed. Given their knowledge of your business and industry, they should also be best prepared for taking the ideas forward. Here it would make sense for your company to develop people pools as well as ideas/project pools.

Q: In the latter case (which IMHO would be preferable), how do you then manage the interruption of work this is causing to the normal pipeline? Often the innovators are some of your most valuable (and busiest) resources and can have a pretty busy agenda. And how do you get executive staff to agree to ‘let-go’ of those resources while they work on innovation?

A: You can only manage this disruption if you already have a process in place for this. As you rightfully point out, these people tend to some of the best employees and they are badly needed in their day jobs. Even though, you “only” ask them to work on the innovation projects on top of their day jobs for a shorter period of time, there is no doubt where their passion will be. Being able to work on your own project is just attractive.

This also results in many managers or even executives being obstacles to this. They need these good people to get their own jobs done and thus they will be inclined not to allow these resources to participate in such innovation projects.

You need to get the executives involved early on as you create a process in which you can force these executives to get their own skin into the game and solve organizational run-ins in your favor.

Q: How do you avoid innovation being too disruptive for the current business? It is not clear to me how you can internally fund initiatives like this, especially if the team you need to form is composed of members from different groups.

A: The key here is to set up some kind of arms-length structure. How new ventures work are completely different from how the established corporate business units work and they can be disruptive to each other. You need to guard them from each other.

Of course, you also need to make sure how “radical” you want to go with your new ventures. This should be aligned in your innovation strategy. Here I like to think in terms of two options; one is to go to the adjacencies of your core and build new business opportunities here and the other is to all the way into completely new markets or industries.

When it comes to radical innovation, it is important to notice that you can’t plan for this. You can only create the right framework and conditions for this to happen and then adapt as needed.

• 5 Reasons Companies Should Forget about Radical Innovation

• Should Everyone Work with Innovation?

Your comments and perspectives are appreciated!

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  1. The greatest threat to humanity is the power of big business. Above all, they are the ones who stifle innovation and the drive towards a sustainable human experience in perpetuity. Indeed the concept of humanity is at threat due to these power groups insatiable lust for profit and where according to Forbes a mere 2,000 companies control 51% of the global economic turnover of the world. Some of the few great humanitarian breakthroughs where I am personally aware of that big business has suppressed and destroyed are,

    1. The humane non-addictive cure for hard drug addiction based on plants, where it detoxified long-term addicts in 72 hours with no ‘cold turkey’ or human side effects. The reason, it would kill tens of billions of drug sales and where this suppression because of the constant quest for profit, rises above even human life itself.

    2. The introduction of a global strategy to prevent pandemics happening that worked in Hong Kong in 1997 and the only one ever to do so and stop the human-to-human killer virus in its tracks. The reason again, there are not the tens of billions in drug sales. Indeed when it comes and where Margaret Chan of the WHO only says that it is a matter of time not when, it will totally decimate the global economy and make the financial meltdown look like a storm in a teacup. But far worse it is estimated that it will kill over 300 million due to the rapid transit systems that we have now unlike 1918 when the Spanish Flu took up to 100 million lives worldwide, and where no family in the world will be unaffected through the loss of a loved one. Again where vast profits rise above human life itself and where such things are of crimes against humanity. Even Nature magazine undertook their dirty work and destroyed this strategy, never to see the light of day again.

    3. The introduction into Africa of PCR low-cost testing kits (the only one costing a few dollars that can determine HIV/AIDS in new born babies and where cheap remedies would then eradicate the diseases for life) that would save hundreds of millions from the scourge of HIV/AIDS and eventually eradicate HIV/AIDS globally by introducing into all nations throughout the world. The reason, big business and charities have a monopoly on the present testing kits that even make money for so-called international charities.

    4. Where big business is and has constantly been buying up new patents that can benefit human sustainability but where because they hit the giant corporate’s ‘bottom-line’, they are shelved. We know this as our fellows tell us so and where they advise the largest corporate concerns in the world. Many of these are the answers to sustainability and the ways of sustaining the ‘human experience’ itself. But because they would knock the profits severely of current products, they are supressed.

    These and other major cover-ups and pure disenabling on the alter of vast corporate profits are the reasons why humankind does not find solutions. But the irony of all this that is constantly going on behind the scenes is that it will eventually even kill off the giant corporates themselves. Therefore the motto seems to be, bleed the system dry of monetary gain at the expense of everything, even human life itself. Can we be so stupid as a species to allow this as the Royal Society and MIT scientists have both independently predicted that by around 2032, the world will simply disintegrate in both social and economic terms under the dictates of the present global system. Innovation is therefore without doubt being destroyed on a daily basis by the avaricious appetite of the global corporate giant’s quest for vast profits and wealth of the very few – including politicians and the so-called corporate spin-off philanthropic organizations around the world who make billions out of humanitarian work without paying any corporation tax whatsoever.

    Dr David Hill
    Chief Executive
    World Innovation Foundation

    – See more at: https://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2013/03/21/innovation-so-much-accomplished-but-so-far-short-of-full-potential/#sthash.qlWGCNX0.dpuf

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