Tony Devila has a nice post today for HBR arguing that big firms can compete better with start ups to find “strategic breakthroughs”. There are a couple of ideas worth pondering. First is something that we should keep repeating to ourselves — not all innovations are the same. Nor do they come from the same type of thinking. Incremental improvements emerge from totally different ecologies than breakthroughs. Both are valuable, but it is difficult for a single entity to do both well. Second, is his attempt to answer the question where breakthroughs come from. They may be the result of management’s “strategic bet”. But more often than not, they come from outside the firm. And this may be where networking trumps fixed institutional collaboration. The conventional wisdom these days is that start ups do “bottom up/breakthrough” strategy (BB) better. But do they?
Hmm … my guess is that over the next years, we will get a lot better at both networking and communication inside organizations. And we will start to see how the two mesh more efficiently. For now, we can say with confidence that this improved meshing is sorely needed.