Rachel King wrote:
“In 2013, corporations worked to create closer relationships with startups in order to spark technological innovation. This year , it seemed, many companies fully embraced the idea of open innovation, which advocates innovating with partners.
“To do that, they opened innovation centers in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, attended innovation conferences and created immersive accelerator programs to give various business units the chance to learn from entrepreneurs.”
That’s simple. Taking “a safe” approach, as these companies did in opening innovation centers in the heart of innovation country and going to conferences is fine, but when it comes to innovation, most big companies need to be doing more than playing it safe.
They need to become more entrepreneurial themselves.
The Same But Different
* Learn from taking that small step. And then they
* Build off that learning and take another step.
* They learn from that one…and so on
Where it differs is how you deal with risk. In the model you noticed we said you take a “small step” toward your goal. The reason we specified small is that you never want to risk more than you can afford to lose. And for the corporate entrepeneur, the risk has two parts–tangible and non-tangible.
And then there is the intangible, i.e. your reputation. How do you protect your reputational capital, something that is extremely important inside the organization. You want your foray to enhance it or at least not put any of it on the line.
This is the point where I think big companies are falling down. They need to accept that entrepreneurial efforts, just like any other corporate initiative, might fail and they need to make it clear to everyone involved that their careers will NOT be damaged, if they are part of something that does not work out despite their best efforts.
Our best companies should be better than that.
Paul B. Brown is the co-author of Just Start: Take Action; Embrace Uncertainty and Create the Future.
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