The Corporate Innovation Ecosystem

In his post on 15 May, Alexander Osterwalder comments on a visual about corporate innovation (produced by Innovation Leader in collaboration with XPLANE). He highlights three aspects of the illustration which he says “resonate with what I’m seeing in the field“. These are: 

  1. The company ‘core’ dominates and it seeks short-term gains rather than transformative innovation.
  2. Innovation programmes sit at the edge of a business and rarely have real power and impact (what Steve Blank calls “innovation theatre“).
  3. Access to customers in order to test the desirability and viability of new ideas is hindered if not blocked by sales and marketing, who own the customer relationship.

These give rise, Osterwalder suggests, to three corresponding challenges for corporate management:

How can the company core be incentivised to embrace and help launch new ideas?

How do you give business R&D real power so that it can have an impact and lead to real growth initiatives? Where should growth innovation live in the organisation chart to make a real difference?

How can established constituencies like sales and marketing  best help and guide your innovation teams to talk, test, and even co-create with some of your strongest customers?

How to respond to these challenge? For the first, Osterwalder suggests that companies create the role of Chief Entrepreneur; he expands on this idea here. For the second, he cites Steve Blank’s ideas about  how to set up a corporate innovation centre that works. He also suggests that companies focus more on business R&D, by which he means “exploring the right value propositions; new business models …. ; managing a portfolio of business models …. ; and even exploring new organizational cultures“.