Innovation based enterprises

Most of the big enterprises of this world started as innovative startups. Whether it was Alfred Escher, founder of Credit Suisse with a – back then-innovative banking system that laid the ground for the Swiss Banking System or Carl Benz with a radical idea of building a machine-driven carriage all of them  have been major disruptors. Henry Ford, Ferdinand Porsche, Robert Bosch and so forth, all created global enterprises with their ideas that have been at best – crazy. What happened in the past 50 years? There have been continuous innovations from Silicon Valley, including Intel, Apple, Oracle, Cisco, Google, Facebook, AirBnB, and Tesla which made it to global leadership. One of the  last ground-breaking innovation from Europe was SAP, 50 years ago. We have seen less popular, yet ground-breaking “inventions” in laboratories from all over the world. But none of them made it to a ground-breaking “innovation”.

From invention to innovation

The automobile evolved from INVENTION to INNOVATION. The disk brakes moved from INVENTION to IMPROVEMENT. The first electric BMW car made it from INVENTION to an EXPERIMENT, while Tesla made it to innovation much later than BMW. A self-driving Mercedes S-Class made a 1,000-mile journey from Munich to Copenhagen and back! It was already using computer vision and computers to react in real-time. The autonomous car achieved speeds exceeding 110 miles per hour (175 km/h) on the German Autobahn with nearly no human intervention for 95% of the distance. It drove in traffic, executing maneuvers to pass other cars. Despite being a research system without emphasis on long-distance reliability, it drove up to 98 miles (158 km) without human intervention. Also here it did NOT go from INVENTION to INNOVATION but DRAWER.

Invention vs. Innovation

In most enterprises, we may find hundreds if not thousands of geniuses with amazing ideas but no way to go. There is this massive difference between INVENTION, the act of having and documenting an idea, maybe building a prototype and INNOVATION, the full cycle of invention, prototyping, market validation, product-market-fit, funding, marketing, testing, producing, launching, more funding, branding, selling, customer engagement, servicing, business model optimization, more funding, going international all the way to being a global player in that segment.

Failing of the enterprises

The five single biggest mistakes enterprises can make is 1) never developed a comprehensive plan to identify the brilliant ideas, which their teams already have, usually based on their experience with the problem, 2) seeing the brain spark of an invention already as innovation and wonder why it is not successful in this highly competitive global economy, 3) completely ignore the fact that innovative businesses require a lot of funding to become that innovative business everybody is dreaming about, 4) running innovation on the side and hoping for the magical growth and market disruption and 5) Never asked themselves where these ideas are actually come from and how they are created in our brain, how those ideas can be translated to meaningful solutions and how to use the techniques of ‘thinking’ in an innovation continuum.

What to do

  1. Seeing the act of invention as an ignition point from the process of innovation is a very helpful starting point.
  2. Developing trust in the Innovation Potential of a company’s employees is far better than looking into startups and hope that somebody thinks more like a startup. If they would,they would be gone.
  3. Rationalize that any major innovation is also a major investment and there is no difference between a startup and a global enterprise.
  4. Create a serious effort to include customers into the innovation process and stop looking what the competition is doing.
  5. Stop hoping that employees think like startup entrepreneurs. If they would they would be long gone and if they don’t they can much better contribute to an enterprise level innovation process.

In the past 4 years exploring the entire “Innovations Paradigm” based on our own experience building startups to billion dollar companies and working with other startups that became billion $ companies we finally developed methods and tools that harness the innovation power of an enterprise by bringing new ways of thinking and new working models and cultural elements to selected teams.

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