Cre­ate not pools, but an ocean

The Smart Manager - - Contents - DOUG HALL IS FOUNDER AND CHAIR­MAN OF EU­REKA! RANCH, AND AU­THOR OF DRIV­ING EU­REKA!

Why ‘lone wolf ’ in­trepreneur­ship does not work and what the new method is, ex­plains Doug Hall, au­thor, Driv­ing Eu­reka!

In­no­va­tion is a re­lent­less pur­suit for every suc­cess­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion, cut­ting across ge­ogra­phies and in­dus­tries. And many are driv­ing dis­rup­tions by pro­mot­ing in­trepreneur teams too. Doug Hall ar­gues this is a flawed ap­proach, ben­e­fit­ting only a select few. In­no­va­tion needs to op­er­ate in a broader realm—one that en­com­passes all and prom­ises a level play­ing field.

For 35 years, I con­sulted with global cor­po­ra­tions on the se­lec­tion and devel­op­ment of in­trepreneurial think­ing within cor­po­ra­tions. The the­ory was that if multi-na­tion­als could get just a few peo­ple to think en­trepreneuri­ally a trans­for­ma­tion in busi­ness re­sults would re­sult. To­day, I be­lieve that this was a mis­take. This ar­ti­cle ex­plains why I feel that ig­nit­ing small teams of in­trepreneurs does not work. It also ex­plains what I am ob­serv­ing does work.

About five years ago, I em­barked on a study of the root causes of in­no­va­tion suc­cess and fail­ure. My data in­cluded those from over 25,000 in­no­va­tions and quan­ti­ta­tive mea­sure­ment of the in­no­va­tion skills and at­ti­tudes of hun­dreds of thou­sands of man­agers.

The data taught me that true re­turn on in­vest­ment from small teams of in­trepreneurs was dev­as­tat­ingly small. Specif­i­cally, ideas de­vel­oped by in­trepreneurs lost 50 per­cent of their value when they in­ter­faced with the cor­po­rate ‘sys­tem’ dur­ing devel­op­ment. A For­tune 20 cor­po­ra­tion found nearly iden­ti­cal re­sults when they an­a­lyzed their his­tory.

Ini­tially, in­trepreneur­ship teams gen­er­ate the per­cep­tion of suc­cess. This is be­cause they spend the ma­jor­ity of their time on the in­no­va­tion as op­posed to ‘the sys­tem’.

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