As someone who has spent much of my life watching organizations fall victim to what I call the ‘transient advantage‘ economy, I’ve always been puzzled that despite its obvious importance, large organizations do a lot more talking about innovation than actually doing it. When you dig a little deeper, what quickly becomes clear is that most of the factors that inhibit innovation success – fear of failure, inadequate funding or structures, resource hoarding – you name it – are internally created and enforced. Yet very few firms seem to have uncovered the alchemy which will turn their people, capabilities, assets and talent into new growth ventures without either heroics on the part of the management team or sheer dumb luck.
More often, unfortunately, the ventures head for my ‘flops file’ – a record that I keep of the unpopular, unloved and generally disastrous efforts at innovation that all too often were expensive “CEO pet projects,” not innovations that really addressed a customer pain point. I am really exited, therefore, that my colleagues over at Silicon Valley incubator / accelerator mach49 are going to be doing a kind of brainstorming on steroids session this coming Friday on how we can help parent companies get out of their own way when it comes to new growth ventures. They call it a “blitz” and its a fast-paced, really fun way to nonetheless tackle serious problems. So I’m Silicon Valley bound to take part.
mach49 is an incubator with a twist – instead of incubating and accelerating for startups, they take many of the same principles and apply them to new corporate ventures. Their concept is that teams go to their incubator space in Silicon Valley to shape and hone new business ideas, spending a dedicated three months talking to customers, getting market feedback, making prototypes and otherwise learning what the opportunity could really be out of an idea.
The trend toward trying to create startups inside large corporations is becoming quite pronounced. What mach49 is hoping to do though is combine the best of what they know about incubating new businesses using design thinking with deep insight into how to manage the parent company so that the ventures don’t get squashed, ignored or trampled on. I’m looking forward to seeing if we can’t come up with a reliable, replicable, way to help established firms defeat the antibodies that are so often inimical to real innovation.
Curious about mach49 or corporate entrepreneurship dilemmas? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.