Corporate Innovation

It's no surprise that large corporations have a difficult time with innovation. The larger the company the more bureaucracy and hierarchy exists. This makes it difficult for organizations to spur a culture of entrepreneurial thinking. I see plenty of large scale companies that will spend a lot of money to appear more innovative from a marketing perspective, but they don't provide the internal tools to activate an internal cultural shift towards innovation. 

Here are some of the most common things I see that prevent innovation in corporate environments:

  • The different business units are siloed and there isn't synergy amongst the business as a whole.
  • Too much decision making power is held at the executive/management level, which prevents employees from acting quickly on their ideas. (Waiting for 5 different levels of approval to get an idea rolling doesn't allow things to happen fast. Corporates need to put more power in their employees hands and let them pull the trigger on their ideas. This will drastically increase the speed at which things get done and move the organization forward as a whole. Will employees make the wrong decisions sometimes? Absolutely, but at least it opens the door for them to make decisions instead of being stifled by levels of management. Give employees small budgets to test out ideas without needing approval. If they fail, incentivize them to iterate and try again. This is how you build innovation and incentivize action.)
  • Meetings, Meetings, Meetings (There are way too many time-sucking meetings that don't produce results. There should be 1-2 strong meetings a week where everyone aligns their goals and defines the most important metrics for driving the business/project they are working on forward and the rest of the week should be focused on getting stuff done.)
  • Time tracking (The billable hour is by far one of the worst inventions if you're trying to spur innovation. It incentivizes people to fill their time, when they should be focused on how to improve efficiency. If an employee can complete a task in a quarter of the amount of time by improving the way they go about the project with the same or better level of quality, then they should be rewarded.)
  • Innovation Departments (Companies should strive to spur innovation throughout the entire organization and not just in one department. All to often when Corporates stand up Innovation Departments, it actually creates separation between them and the other business units, as other areas of the business feel disconnected from what is occurring and left out. Also, it's often the best ideas come from the ground floor of organizations from the employees that experience the pain points on a daily basis and have created their own solutions, but they don't feel "heard" in the organization, so they don't speak up. Corporates should create interconnectivity between business units that foster innovation and allow employees at all levels to confidantly test ideas internally.)
  • Massive Email Threads (Email is a time suck and there should be more effective tools used internally like Slack. If you've got 15 people on the same thread responding to emails, then you're wasting time and there are far more effective ways for internal communication)
  • Cubicles (Get rid of the cubicle style office set up. It separates people and prevents free-flowing communication. Open office settings where people can freely collaborate allow for more than just things getting done faster, it also alleviates the mental separation and psychological effect of cubicles.

These are just a few of the issues that I've seen that stifle innovation in large-scale corporate environments. One of the forward thinking corporates in St. Louis that has partnered with Capital Innovators to spur innovation is Maritz. They joined forces with us to help bring innovation into their organization. The partnership has blossomed and Maritz and Capital Innovators are exploring ways to further engage and deepen our relationship due to the tremendous value they have seen in our innovation practices. Specifically, we have Maritz employees working side-by-side with our startups, which trains them to eliminate inefficiencies and think more creatively. Additionally, we are providing in-depth access to the most cutting-edge technologies that are shaping the future of the world through the startups that we work with.

This is one of the huge value adds that Capital Innovators can provide to corporates. We can be the liaison between startups and larger organizations to allow them to get key insights into new technologies to see how the market is changing and allow them to stay ahead of their competitors. We had 350 companies from 50 countries and 35 states apply to our last Accelerator program. That is 350 new cutting-edge businesses that are working towards shaping the future and disrupting various markets. This information is invaluable to corporates and allows them to see into the future. We can also help train employees how to think more entrepreneurially in the work place and improve their work speed and product, which drives more revenue for businesses. In my opinion, having a group of employees work in-depth with our startups over the course of a 12 week Accelerator program is way more valuable and cost-effective than paying for employees to get their MBA at a University. The biggest difference is the hands-on learning that we provide, instead of theoretical business situations that don't provide real-world value. One route gives you a piece of paper and the other gives you a top-notch innovation infused employee that will provide results in the work place.

We can help create innovation environments inside of corporations so that companies and their employees remain creative into the future. There are so many reasons why corporates should be working with Capital Innovators, but perhaps the most important is so that they remain relevant...

Brian Dixon