October 10

Innovation in Large Organizations

If you’re a product person in a large organization you’ve no doubt found that it can be difficult to be truly innovative. Sure, your organization talks about innovation, but just because you say you’re doing something doesn’t mean you’re actually doing it. There are a variety of things that get in the way of innovation at large organizations. These resources explore those obstacles and suggest some things you can do to avoid being all talk and no action.

The biggest obstacles to innovation in large companies.  Organizations can proclaim innovation to Wall Street analysts, create new innovation centers or added to people’s job titles but that doesn’t mean it will be successful. There are thorny cultural, strategic, political, and budget issues that must be confronted by CEOs and other leaders if they want to ensure that their organizations encourage new ideas. Scott Kirsner fielded a survey earlier this year that asked about the most common obstacles to innovation in large companies. The survey identified five obstacles that were each cited by at least one-third of respondents.

(via @ScottKirsner)

Here’s why your innovation program isn’t working, and how you can fix it. Is your organization full of innovation programs but none have changed the trajectory of your company? Steve Blank can explain why innovation activities have generated innovation theater, but few deliverables. Steve can also explain how to build innovation programs that deliver products and services, not just demos. “It starts by understanding the ‘Innovation Stack’ — the hierarchy of innovation efforts that have emerged in large organizations. The stack consists of: Individual Innovation, Innovation Tools and Activities, Team-based Innovation and Operational Innovation.”

(via @sgblank)

Innovating in large companies.  Larger organizations tend to be more conservative, and less willing to take risks than smaller companies. This makes innovating in those large organizations difficult, but not impossible. Marty Cagan takes a look at a variety of techniques you can use to overcome the inertia that often gets in the way of innovation in large organizations.

(via @cagan)

8 Ways to drive innovation in large organizations. Frameworks for rapid innovation inherently promote embracing the unknown through a “fail fast” mentality rooted in rapid experimentation and continuous, iterative development. Yet more often than not, doing unproven things can be seen as a threat in large organizations. Heather McCloskey explores eight ways product people can drive innovation in enterprise organizations in a way that uses agility to overcome inherent inertia in large organizations.


How big companies can innovate like small startups. Gary Pisano rejects the narrative that only scrappy startups are nimble enough to innovate. He believes large, established firms can adapt and evolve, but they have to go about it differently than their small-sized competitors. Pisano recently joined the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on SiriusXM to explain why innovation for big firms isn’t as simple as “be like Uber.”

(via @motogp61)

Kent J McDonald

About the author

Kent J McDonald writes about and practices software product management. He has product development experience in a variety of industries including financial services, health insurance, nonprofit, and automotive. Kent practices his craft with a variety of product teams and provides just in time resources for product people at KBP.media and Product Collective. When not writing or product managing, Kent is his family’s #ubersherpa, listens to jazz and podcasts (but not necessarily podcasts about jazz), and collects national parks.


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