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Trying to Create Tomorrow’s Company with Yesterday’s Rules and Tools: Part 3 – Moving from the Old to the New

Trying to Create Tomorrow’s Company with Yesterday’s Rules and Tools: Part 3 – Moving from the Old to the New

Last time we explored some of the new innovation methods that are unseating the established conventional approaches that many companies still use. This time we will discuss the dynamics of this transition and the tradeoffs it produces.

So how might these new tools of innovation be used and what older constructs and approaches might they possibly replace?

From the Old To the New
Corporations Federated Organizations
Strategic Planning Idea Markets
Hurdle Rates Crowd Funding
Portfolio Management Innovation Tournaments
Talent Management Creativity Clusters
Research and Development Collaborative Open Innovation Networks
Phase Gate Systems Crowdsourcing
Creative Problem Solving Methods Worldwide Brainstorming
Life Cycle Management Trickle-Up Innovation
Intellectual Property Open Source Innovation


While at first this may appear to be an exaggeration of the shift in contemporary business practices all one need do is look at an industry once lionized as an innovation leader to see this progression at work. Consider the pharmaceutical Industry once synonymous with medical breakthroughs and now virtually dependent upon a wide assortment of biotech and startup firms for its drug discovery and development. While admittedly the litigious state of the industry and heavy regulation haven’t helped the cause of cutting edge innovation the ever increasing complexity of tools and methods traditional for this industry have driven these juggernauts into an escalating bidding war for potential therapies. Given the legion of highly qualified scientists these pharmaceutical giants employ as compared to the much smaller and often undercapitalized biotech firms it can be assumed that the rules and tools of innovation these larger enterprises continue to use may be contributing to the lethargic state of the industry as a whole.

Everything New Becomes Old

As the French proclaimed during their Reign of Terror “The revolution devours its children.” History moves in cycles and progress vacillates between freedom and control. As with most things every strength brings a weakness. These new innovation practices are not without their own drawbacks:

Upside Downside
Global reach Local politics
Real time strategy Constantly changing course
Boundaryless organization Legal accountability
Shared values Shareholder value
Rapid response to emergent opportunities Inability to sustain long horizon projects
Simplified innovation processes Complex operational requirements
Best solutions from anywhere Not invented here implementation
Accelerated experimentation Disjointed solutions
Highly customized designs Low manufacturability
Creative power of suppliers and clients Disruptive power of suppliers and clients


Ironically, many of these new innovation tools and rules have come from our children. While we hold them dear to us we may still marginalize their unfamiliar ideas and customs as strange. It may be wise to remember that deviation is a necessary condition of innovation – a departure from the norm – our norm.

We may be seeing something very new – innovating the way we innovate. How these generalities translate into specific applications will the work of Gen Next. We will have to wait and see what really works and what doesn’t. What is clear is that the rules and tools we used to create our brave new world are no longer necessary or sufficient for the next one. One size never fits all – and never did. We were once as they are now. And surely the day will arrive when they realize that they have become us. May that be the moment when they rediscover our rules and tools that brought us so far so fast.

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