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Institutionalizing Entrepreneurial Curiosity: Think Small and Fast

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Many world-class companies have designed their business innovation engine to be small, nimble, and fast just like a start-up.

Corporate team building

Following are specific examples of how world-class organizations support their innovation engines in order to enable a higher success hit rate from their innovation teams and "intrapreneurs":

  • IBM has become the world's technology leader because of their commitment to innovation through collaboration. Their innovation philosophy is "Fail Many, but Fail Cheap". They use "Single Portal" (one of world's Top 10 intranets), Innovation Incubator (Technology Adoption Process), Lotus Connections (for fast information sharing), Innovation Jams (worldwide online ideation sessions), BluePedia (one of the largest internal Wikipedia sites), and Sametime (for instant online meetings).
  • Whirlpool has an innovation college-like program that creates innovation mentors who are trained in structured innovation tools. These mentors are the primary innovation consultants for business teams to achieve their respective execution strategies.
  • Intuit conducts multi-day "lean start-ins" for trained intrapreneurs to teach them how to conduct rapid experimentation for their products and services.
  • Kimberly-Clark conducts "expert acceleration sessions" where they bring in external thought leaders (domain experts, industry analysts, scientist, leading edge technologists) face to face with business teams to help identify game-changing opportunities.
  • 3M mandates internal sharing of all new innovations across product lines, markets, and R&D centers. They also have 30 customer technical centers across the world designed to better understand unique market needs and to accelerate global product introductions.

These big companies are successful because they understand how to grow big, with a Silicon Valley mindset. They have nurtured small start-up environments within their larger organizational structure and in the process have embraced how to continually experiment with what might be 'next'. Most importantly, they have realized they can never survive by primarily relying on knowledge and expertise solely within the four walls of the company.

In other words, they deliberately pursue outside-in (looking for emerging needs of the customers and markets) and inside-in (collaboration across internal business areas) perspectives as a standard practice.

How are you incubating and institutionalizing "entrepreneurial  curiosity" within your organization?

Learn more about developing entrepreneurial thinking via our Venture Competitions article.  When properly deployed, the business plan competition concept can result in 1) generation of new products and services, 2) development of employee business acumen and entrepreneurial capability, and 3) improved internal networks, enhancing cross-company collaboration and business results. 

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