Treasure 103 – Innovation & Silicon Valley

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What are the success factors of innovation units? How do Innovation Labs generate homeless ideas? Which way of thinking makes founders successful in Silicon Valley? This treasure is all about innovation. The impulse for this treasure came from CompanyPirate reader Benedikt Bez, who wanted information on the topic “Cooperation between companies for innovation”. I will try to get more nuggets on this topic over the next few weeks.

What about the topic of digital innovation in German companies? Nugget #1, a study by Thomas Sindemann by Infront Consulting, provides insight. 2/3 of all DAX companies already afford a Digital Innovation Unit. The study provides a division into three different forms – Innovation Labs, Company Builder and Accelerators. There are also mixed forms or several units under one roof, as the 2019 Report shows.
Here are my take-aways on the subject of Company Builder. On Innovation Labs and Accelerators I write some thoughts in Nugget #2 and #3.

  • According to the study, company builders have the highest goal achievement (page 24). Success factor 1 means “control” according to the study. I would say that Company Builders are successful because no control is operated. The small enterprises are completely aligned to the customer and operate with maximum creation of value. You can find more information on the primus of goal achievement, Daimler’s Lab1886, in treasure 92.
  • My personal favorite of success factors is Network (page 30). Without the involvement of customers, suppliers and experts, it is almost impossible to achieve the necessary speed. Because a small team possesses hardly all necessary skills and expertises. “Not invented here” is definitely a no-go. The network must be continuously expanded and maintained. I see this as an important task for the Company Builder. The Company Builder must also ensure that legal and contractual issues are dealt with quickly and easily. Otherwise, the speed of the network is quickly lost again. This will certainly still be a topic in future treasure chests. If you have any material, please contact me!
  • The next level in networking and cooperation is described on page 46. The first companies are already joining forces to form joint accelerators. Some of them are even competitors. I also see potential for company builders here. If you are part of a Company Builder and would like to continue this idea, please contact me!

There is now also a 2019 issue of the study worth reading. But for a first overview and classification I think the 2018 one is better. (30+ min, text, German)

Groups on the tracks of startups

Tendayi Viki from Strategyzer writes about the success factors for Innovation Labs in Nugget #2. Because new ideas often have no chance in the existing organization, the Innovation Lab becomes a kind of SOS Children’s Village. In the beginning, the delicate plants grow quite well. However, the time comes when resources or people from the existing organization are needed. It is therefore important that there is support from leaders. The situation becomes even more critical if the idea is to be scaled back into the existing organization. In many companies that I got to know, this was accompanied by a handover of the idea. The Innovation Lab team stayed in the Innovation Lab and couldn’t get rid of the “hot potato”. In most cases, the team of the existing organisation was risk-averse and the idea was still too immature. Perhaps it was also due to the “not invented here” syndrome.
Even if this problem does not exist. Some of the ideas may not fit the company’s strategy. I think a company builder prepares young companies better to go their own way. A first clue how well your innovation efforts are supported can be found in the Innovation Readiness Assessment linked in the article.
Has your company an Innovation Lab? What about scaling ideas? I am very interested in the exchange. (3 min, text, English)

Innovation Labs Should Not Be A Home For Homeless Ideas

Let’s finally take a look at the topic Accelerator. The world’s most successful accelerators are located in Silicon Valley. The well-known Y Combinator has produced successful unicorns like AirBnB. Plug and Play is certainly also known to many. Wayra, a member of British Telefonica, is represented in Munich as well as Silicon Valley.
Nugget #3 deals with the way of thinking in Silicon Valley. The article comes from Urs M. Krämer, who also contributed to our “What if” Blogparade. “Business is in danger when costs increase and value is flat”. Everyone in the automotive industry would have to cock up their ears now. If you think of electric mobility and autonomous driving, you probably don’t have a Silicon Valley way of thinking. According to the article, these two topics have already been discussed.
By the way, founders in the Bay Area always keep their ears open as well as their eyes. Perhaps we also do this in German companies. However, we look far too rarely outside our companies or even our industry. Here the circle closes to my thoughts in Nugget 1. So I agree with Urs Krämer when he says: “We definitely don’t all have to become Americans, but a pinch of US mindset would do us good.”
On the other hand, however, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that there are other exciting ecosystems in the world besides Silicon Valley. In treasure 84 I wrote about it. The Startup Genome Report is now also available in the 2019 issue. (5 min, text, German)