Friday, October 5, 2012

Let's hear it for the big guys!

There's a lot of buzz these days about small business, the individual entrepreneur, and the garage where it all started. More power to them!

But, what about the big guys? Is there no 'corporate garage' as it were?

Ferhan Bulca tells us there are actually a lot of advantages for innovation in the big corporation; maybe it's not an oxymoron. And, Scott Anthony tells us that, indeed, there is/can be a corporate garage, just like the one H-P and Apple emerged from.

Bulca sums it up this way: The big guys have---
1. Access to resources
Large companies have the most important resource for innovation: cash.

2. Established brand
An established brand does not make a sloppy product successful but it certainly ensures that the new product gets some much needed air time with potential customers.

3. Talent acquisition
IBM, for example, would have no difficulty attracting the top talent for new business ideas they are working on.

4. Create and maintain momentum
Large organizations can dedicate resources to new development while start-up entrepreneurs struggle with basic needs of life.

Somebody must buy into this. The boys at Strategy& tell us that globally, in 2010, corporate R&D was up 9% year over year to $550 Billion, led by electronics/IT, and healthcare. (Shocking! that these two would be the leaders)

All of this translates to projects and programs largely led by us (project and program managers), so our industry is rebounding, at least in dollars, faster than the world economy generally, and by a wide margin.

Of course, top innovators and top R&D spenders don't always correspond. In fact, according to Strategy&, only three of the top ten R&D spenders are also in the top ten for innovators. Thus, the small guys are the predominant innovators, but one always has to say: "show me the money". Many of us can't afford to starve while we innovate.

Booz puts the innovators in three categories (strategy characterization) somewhat akin to the Treacy-Wiersema model (customer intimacy, operational excellence, product leadership), though Strategy& opines that Need Seeking is the yellow brick road:
  • Need Seekers,
  • Market Readers and
  • Technology Drivers