The job of the corporate innovation officer or VP of Innovation is to discover and bring to life new lines of business within the assets of the corporation, whether those assets are intellectual property or personnel. And, the goal of those innovation artifacts should be monetization, to bring new sources of revenue to the organization. However, just like most startups fail, not all corporate innovations will succeed. How does the corporation know it’s time to change directions on a particular idea or project? It may be time to put the idea down, pivot, or totally change direction.
Below are the most common criteria we hear from corporate innovation officers evaluating the status of a project to determine where to go next.
- Little or no ongoing value to the line business – we call this “non-core” to the business. A billion-dollar organization has no need for $50 or $100 million “innovations”. Therefore, when the organization comes to the realization that this innovation is too small, it’s time to make a change.
- Sales channel can’t monetize – this situation is similar to an idea being non core; the product or service doesn’t fit with the competencies of the existing sales organization or the organization’s core customers don’t have a compelling need for it.
- Early stage idea – Large businesses are good at repetitive processes, but early stage startups are learning machines, not businesses. Every day is some new adventure in failure or glorious success, and that type of daily operation doesn’t fit well in most corporate environments.
- Currently in market but underperforming – This situation might just be a branding issue or a product/market fit issue; however, once again, large organizations can make that change, but it takes much more time and resources than a lean startup organization.
- Needs redevelopment to a modern stack – Ever had a great idea before its time? It really does happen all the time (see the Apple Newton). Perhaps the organization did a full buildout of a great product that was years too early for the market. That means old hardware, old software, old thinking. It is possible that a technology refresh can be the key to successfully bringing a product to market.
The Organization Must Feed the Innovation
Each of these is a potential need that a large corporation cannot meet efficiently. If the organization cannot provide for the need of the innovation, the innovation will be put on the shelf.
The Combine takes those shelved intellectual property artifacts and turns them into great businesses.