Where Innovation Goes to Die

Innovator’s curse and why large companies can’t be disruptive, for the most part.

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Steve Blank quoting a friend of his:

“Most of the time our attempts at innovation result in “innovation theater” – lots of motion (memos from our CEO, posters in the cafeteria, corporate incubators) but no real change. We were once a scrappy, agile and feared organization with a “can-do” attitude. Now most people here don’t want to rock the boat and simply want do their job 9 to 5. Mid-level bureaucrats kill everything by studying it to death or saying it’s too risky. Everything innovative I’ve accomplished has taken years of political battles, calling in favors, and building alliances.”

Startups are high status these days. It’s a remarkable characteristic of our times. No surprise outsiders want to capture some of this status by adopting the startup lingo. In the end, companies optimized for execution (not innovation) carry on as usual. They have no business innovating, really, it would kill their very valuable incumbency. For a culture…

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