How Corporations Can Innovate Like Startups

Forbes | Jodie Cook | Jan 23, 2023

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If you aren’t an innovator, but instead run a traditionally structured business you can learn a lot from successful startups and the innovative entrepreneurs who run them. 

  • “Most companies suck at innovation because they are not thinking and acting like a startup,” Stemple said. “To avoid falling into this trap, business leaders should focus on talent, embrace audacious ideas, prioritize performance over process and package their offerings in an appealing, dynamic way.”

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  • Hire lots of innovators:  Startups and entrepreneurs know that innovative people are the heart of any business. Corporations must learn to prioritize hiring innovators. Luckily, at its core, innovation is 100 percent psychological, and because it is dominated by psychology, it's accessible to anyone.
    • Just hiring innovators is not enough. Corporations must also make sure their culture supports innovation. If a company creates a culture of fear, even inadvertently, it will be impossible to create the kinds of ideas that will change the world.
  • Embrace visionary ideas: Waiting is not an effective strategy for dealing with evolution. The corporate culture wants to wait until a problem fully develops, and then find a solution. A more effective approach is to do what innovators do, staying ahead of the curve and seeking out the opportunities revealed by the changing environment. Then, work early on to create solutions.
  • Prioritize performance (over processes):  The devotion to established processes is one of the reasons why innovation is absent in some large businesses. They treat their processes as law. If they have a lot of inefficient rules or processes, especially when it comes to innovation, those rules act as a tax, cutting into the possibility of successful innovations and future profit.
    • By remaining fluid and forgiving, startups create agile processes that are finely tuned to the project that they are trying to build and the customer they serve.

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  • Storytelling: The unknown can be fearful, but it's also exciting. The best stories, and the best innovations, tap into the excitement associated with the unknown. Like storytellers, it's the innovator’s job to build a path to and through the unknown. All innovation is a story, and an innovator must build upon the story and make it clearer as it goes.

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