Why is it so difficult to stimulate innovation within large corporations, while at the same time, corporate managers are flooded with innovative business ideas and personnel?
Jeffrey Bussgang, a partner at Flybridge Capital Partners – a Boston-based investment firm – who is also one of our guest bloggers, posed this question to readers of our blog titled Staying Entrepreneurial . Here is what one reader replied:
There are two main barriers to business innovation. The first obstacle is fear: if I try something new and fail, will I lose my job? Businesses need to affirm in a clear message that it is much better to try and fail than to fail to try.
The second obstacle is found in the structure or in the internal processes of the company themselves. It will be typical of an ordinary corporate executive to always give you 10 reasons why those structures or processes won’t be able to take advantage of a genius idea. In 9 out of 10 cases, their refusal will relate to the internal structure or processes and will have absolutely nothing to do with the business problem you are trying to solve. All managers will understand from your proposal is that implementing it will make their job more difficult.
In such cases, which require a change in management, the best approach to consider is usually to develop a pilot project. Start by assembling a small but motivated team; design and then deliver a manageable pilot project; finally prove and make known your success. Once other managers in the business get a glimpse of what you were capable of doing, they too will want to jump on the bandwagon. Another advantage: when a change is made within a company, its employees will be more motivated than if the change was imposed on them by their superiors.