Ever heard the story of the lion and the mouse? In this classic African tale, a lion is convinced to take pity on a mouse after the tiny creature accidentally ran over the sleeping feline’s nose. The mouse promises to one day repay the lion. A few days later the lion is caught in hunter’s net and is unable to free itself. Luckily, the mouse was nearby and quickly gnawed through the ropes of the net to set the trapped animal free. The moral of the story is simple – even the tiniest of creatures has the ability to help the king of the jungle.
In business, this lesson holds true. Start-ups and larger companies don’t have to be competitors. In fact, they can work together to foster innovation and help each other thrive. The benefits include increasing speed and agility and encouraging diverse ways of thinking. In partnering with start-ups, bigger companies are more able to be disruptive and with the support of a bigger brand, early-stage entrepreneurs have greater freedom to research their ideas and decide if they are feasible and suitable for the market.
“Big companies and startups each possess something the other needs to innovate. Frankly, many large corporations struggle with the process of innovation itself. Although equipped with brand recognition, resources and funding, time spent blazing a trail could potentially take focus away from core products and services. On the other hand, while startups crave credibility, cash flow and better resources, they offer cutting-edge talent, best-of-breed expertise, less bureaucracy, agility and faster time-to-market than their corporate counterparts,” Business.com writes.
Here are a few approaches corporates can take when they are looking to bring start-ups and entrepreneurs into the fold.
#1 Corporate accelerators and incubators
Corporate accelerators and incubators identify early-stage start-ups and offer them support by providing them with the mentorship, business advice, often, the capital to get their ideas off the ground. Sponsored by an established organisation, these initiatives promote innovation and allow bigger brands to filter the most viable and promising new ideas into their businesses.
#2 From the inside
If setting up a formal incubator is not for you, why not foster innovation among your internal staff?
At Adobe, for example, the company created a programme that aimed to set out goal to teach their employees how to innovate. According to Mark Randall, Adobe’s chief strategist and VP of creativity, the aim is to “remove all barriers to innovation by giving an innovator a red paper box that contains everything they need to succeed”. These boxes contain everything from $1 000 in seed money, a six-step innovation guide, as well as other tools, frameworks and exercises to help them be creative. The only catch is that their innovations must align with the company’s broader strategies and values.
#3 Corporate creativity
By now, most of us have heard of Google’s “20-percent time” concept. By giving employees 20% of their company time to work on projects of their choosing, creative people are given the freedom to innovate. This also fosters a culture of innovation and inspires employees to think out of the box every day.
What approach are you taking to foster innovation in your business? We’d love to hear all about it and help you on your journey. Complete the form below and we’ll get back to you.