Can big companies still do big innovation?

Can big companies still do big innovation?

Think of all the big, disruptive innovations or new business models and you realise that almost none of these have come from big companies.

For example:

Uber

Twitter

Instagram

Gum Tree

Air B&B

I could go on.

These are big companies now but they all started by often young entrepreneurs.

And what happens is that in the market-place of new business ideas the best ones rise to the top.

They then get bought for big dollars by a big company .

For example:

Facebook has acquired more that 40 companies including WhatsApp and Instagram.

This strategy seems to be as much about acquiring new products as much as injecting new talent into the larger organisation.

I also suspect it satisfies the investing community about where the future growth of the established business may come from.

What does this mean for big companies?

Should they keep trying to generate big innovations?

Yes but……….

Google by all reports is trying to develop a driverless car and Apple has just launched its new watch.

These are big bets.

And if they come off they potentially could make a major difference to their business.

But still..

Buying in rising businesses with innovative products and people is a mighty effective strategy.

Leaders in large organisations are also investing in or setting up Incubators where they can help guide and accelerate a potential disruptive new product or service at a fraction of the price after it really takes off.

But there is also another strategy for leaders of large organisations.

Adopt a small wins approach.

The aim is to build a culture and capability where consistent small changes and improvements are encouraged and nurtured.

Small changes can add up.

Particularly if these small changes are leveraged throughout a business.

For example, we helped introduce the 45 minute meeting throughout a division of a big airline.

Every meeting, every day was now 45 minutes rather than the traditional 1 hour.

Meetings started on time, more was done, people were better prepared and there was a 25% saving in time.

Small wins can make a big difference.

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