I’ve been working with large companies and the U.S. government to help them innovate faster– not just kind of fast, but 10x the number of initiatives in 1/5 the time. A 50x speedup kind of fast.
Lean Innovation Management
In the last five years “Lean Startup” methodologies have enabled entrepreneurs to efficiently build a startup by searching for product/market fit rather than blindly trying to execute. Companies pursuing innovation can Buy, Build, Partner or use Open Innovation. But trying to find a unified theory of innovation that allows established companies to innovate internally with the speed and urgency of startups has eluded our grasp.
The first time a few brave corporate innovators tried to overlay the Lean tools and techniques that work in early-stage startups in an existing corporation, the result was chaos, confusion, frustration and ultimately, failure. They ended up with “Innovation Theater” — great projects, wonderful press releases about how innovative the company is — but no real substantive change in product trajectory.
In working with Greg Hannon, the head of Innovation at W.L. Gore, I’ve found two corporate strategy tools developed by other smart people helpful in bridging Lean Startups with Corporate Innovation. The first, the notion of the “ambidextrous organization” from O’Reilly and Tushman, posits that companies that want to do continuous innovation need to execute their core business model while innovating in parallel. In other words, in an ambidextrous company you need to be able to “chew gum and walk at the same time.”