Having worked with corporate innovation and seen innovations evolving in different sectors, it became easier to imagine what an innovation cycle entails. Some companies do it better than the others, but most of the companies spend a lot of money on innovation with less visibility on the outcome and returns. And, in large corporates, a strong sense of bias still exists at all levels that could taint the disruptive idea even before it can be executed well. So, how to fix that?
Organize an incubator to disrupt your business. Wait donât panic, let me explain how it could really help a fortune company stay in business for a sustainable, foreseeable future. Incubators are the next level of business case competition, but more rigorous, longer duration and more effective. In an incubator, you just donât get the next big idea for the company, but also get the one that can be executed in most effective way.
Here are my 5 reason on why it is relevant:
1. It lets you find out the opportunities that were not visible to your focused eyes: Startup entrepreneurs have an open mind to try out the most amazing and complex projects. Also, they donât have the restrictions (legal, bureaucracy, brand impact, accountability to shareholders) that large corporates have that pose as a big hurdle in innovation. Startups are also free from multiple biases that large corporations are plagued with. Hence, it is much easier and faster to innovate and try out new things in a lean manner and in a bureaucracy free startup environment. Incubators bring out the best of the both worlds, where the best minds are competing to bring the best products to market and where the corporates provides the necessary support and is its culture is not able to taint the ideas.
2. Stay close to the ideas that could disrupt your market and sleep better: What salesforce did to Oracle, and what amazon did to retail stores is not something you would be looking forward to. So, if you are not keeping your eyes and ears open to next disruption, you might miss the very last boat that will let you afloat. Incubators can act as a breeding ground for disruptive ideas not just for your current market landscape, but also things that might change the marketplace for your goods in the future for forever. So, it provides you an opportunity to grow in your land as well as in neighboring lands while investing limited resources.
3. Opportunity to hire entrepreneurs which rarely show up in HR resume: Incubators could be a great place to spot talent especially people who are motivated to endure in the land of unknown and can make things happen. It is HRâs dream to hire those 20% that lifts 80% of the company and take them to GREEN zone. I have been at numerous roles and seen variable talent pool. True entrepreneurs always stand out; hustling, giving their 110% heart and soul to make things happen. Money does not motivate them, but creating something useful does. Every company craves for people with out of the box thinking, lean, fast and ambitious to make things happen. In favor of sustainability, this is the talent that each organization needs especially for fostering innovation and success.
4. Keeps you current, sexy and relevant: Whether we talk about Larry Ellison discussing the concept of cloud/big data as fluff, or Steve Ballmer laughing at iPhone or Blackberryâs tumble. Every big conglomerate lives in their bubble, they have limited sized window that shows them the world they live in. Reality distortion is almost true for all big companies, bigger the size, thicker the lens, poorer the vision. Startups have the tendency to stay current and act on latest and greatest methodologies that exists today. Big companies get that know-how free if they are associated with startups. They could be part of what and how the world is changing and what roles startups play, so they can adept their practices and stay current. Companies donât need to invest millions to get ideas on staying current, sometimes all it takes is thousands to make the difference.
5. Good karma points, positive PR and strong brand building: Last but not the least; incubators can really help a brand image of the large corporates, as startups are considered to be interesting, sexy and young. They attract the youth and the early adopters. Press and media want to find out and write about the next big idea in the industry. So, being attached to an incubator and startups gets you good media coverage and publicity and creates brand awareness. It also creates positive vibes in the old consumers and reinforces their support for the brand and attracts new customers.
There are many large corporates that have leveraged incubation as a technique to get an edge over innovation in their industries, namely â Pepsi, GE, Nike, Microsoft etc. All these companies are pioneers in their respective fields and have leveraged and profited from their involvement with the incubators and startups.
What should we do?
No, you donât have to get into the incubation business; there are tons of incubators out there. Find one and partner with them to get you going on the road to fix some of the innovation loopholes that could not be fixed by data innovation. Yes, big data innovation is still super relevant and yes, incubators could help you innovate as well. So, there is more than one easy, cost effective, and optimal ways for big enterprises to innovate.
Here is a quick video by Christie Hefner on designing a corporate culture that is open to all ideas.