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Can companies innovate faster than startups?

The world of innovation has a very Darwinian approach: only those who will adapt will survive. In other words, you have to create the disruption so as not to undergo it. Although this may seem very brutal, it's the environment in which we live today. And the stakes are major because, overnight and unexpectedly, a new player can appear from nowhere and challenge your leadership position. However, calling the shots in disruption is not easy when you're an established company. But this can be summarized in 5 verbs: understanding, analyzing, observing, adapting and transforming.

Understanding

Disruption is not just a buzzword. It definitely characterizes the environment in which we live. And waiting for disruption to react is not a solution for the future. The main causes of disruption are generally linked to societal phenomena (globalization, legislation, etc.) and advanced technologies (internet, 3D printing, etc.). Each disruption creates a new niche market and the possibility of success, provided that an effective strategy is aligned.

Analyzing

To call the shots in disruption, established company must begin by transforming its internal organization in order to speed up execution. Having a disruptive idea is a good start. But as long as it is not concretized, it's useless. Taking into account that the most important asset for a company (its employees) represents a delicate and highly responsive ecosystem, the executive team must do all they can to foster creativity and agility of its employees. With an internal environment set fair, execution and disruption will be facilitated.

The next step towards disruption is to analyze the health of your R&D department. If it does not exist, put one in place! R&D is one of the easiest potential sources of disruption to exploit. And if you identify problems in your development process, you should solve them first.

Observing

Relying only on your R&D may seem sufficient. However, given that you must react as quickly as possible to a constantly changing environment, this will quickly become a way that will not be effective enough, and especially that lacks of "customer" focus. I advise you to look somewhere else. The open innovation concept, for example, suggests that innovation can be discovered with the help of external sources, such as your "non-technical" employees, other industry leaders, or even your customers.

Constantly receiving feedback, promoting collective thinking, or even creating a mutual innovation strategy with some of your competitors, can bring you closer to the disruption.

Adapting

If we look at the market today, the majority of disruption creators are startups. So why not just reuse their methods? The main advantage of startups is their "Fail Faster, Succeed Sooner" approach. They are able to deliver solutions faster than most established companies because they have the following characteristics: fast growth, agile structure and trust in decision-making. An established company will have much more difficulty doing the same because of the size and complexity of its structure.

But difficult does not mean impossible. So take the best of startups and tailor it to your environment to create your next disruption. And by the way, my next articles will be devoted to what I learned from startups.

Transforming

Disruptive innovations can not exist in a 100% conventional environment. Most of the time, startups rely on a free flow of information, transparency, audacity in decisions and, above all, a great empowerment of its employees. As opposed to conventional company environments based on a closed concept, well-established boundaries between departments, and fixed function descriptions. The free flow of information allows people to have new ideas, learn faster, while fixed rules tend to slow down considerably this process of pollination. This does not mean that established companies must sacrifice discipline and order. But it is essential to succeed in injecting a certain amount of "innovation chaos" and to make it live within a well-defined framework.

In order to call the shots in innovation, you have understood that established companies must learn to accelerate efficiently its execution, and to open up to the outside world. Keeping an eye on potential disruption creators, and at the same time, getting to create your own in-house disruption is far from easy. However, the market today is impatient, with the appearance of many new players ready to rumble. Thus, create the disruption so as not to undergo it.

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