11 Powerful Corporate Innovation Truths by CB Insights 5

Many of us subscribe to newsletters with good intentions to learn about this, that and the other. If you’re like me though, you dont read half of the newsletters that you have subscribed to! One newsletter that bucks this trend is that from CB Insights. The team provide a pretty cool and very readable analysis of what is going on – which companies, sectors and trends are hot, and which are not! They tackle a lot of the themes i am interested in: payments, payments disruption, blockchain and fintech.

Anyway, one of the recent newsletters contained a transcript of a webinar – Startups & Accelerating Corporate Innovation. The webinar presented by the CB Insights chief, Anand Sanwal, is packed full of interesting information about corporate innovation. When i read the transcript i had several ah ha moments, and noted the following top 11 quotes and corporate innovation insights:

Corporate Innovation:

1. The need for constant innovation

  • “What got you here, won’t get you there!”

2. The importance of startups and their innovative and entrepreneurial flair

  • “For you as a corporation, they [start ups] are outsourced R&D”
  • “The reason startups are so important is because these emerging business models and start ups ultimately becomes [the solutions to] tomorrows problems”
  • “The average lifespan of an S&P 500 company…. is declining. The threats to incumbents organisations are multiplying… and so… it is harder to stay on top once you’re there”

3. The need to recognise the pace of technological change

  • “In addition to costs coming down, the adoption curves when it comes to technology are quicker than ever”

4. Why do large corporations fail to innovate?

  • Anand highlights reasons such as focus groups. culture, resources, costs, ideas and worrying about other large organisations
  • “If you think of yourself as Godzilla, it is likely that King Kong is not going to kill you. It is actually a death by a thousand cuts”

5. Corporates need to assess, watch and identify winning start ups

  • “The ‘Not rich enough’ of today will be the ‘plenty rich’ tomorrow, and so not worrying about them today is probably not the best strategy”

6. What is corporate innovation?

  • “For most corporations, innovation is sort of random. At its worst, it’s a buzzword. Often, there’s no process”

7. Corporate innovation – Do you listen to what companies say, or watch what they actually do?

  • “You can listen to their quarterly earnings releases and the talking points, and all of the very scripted points that they want to make, or you just look at what they’re doing”

8. Corporate innovation sometimes requires partnering with a start up:

  • “The question here is are you really accessing innovation, or is it just good PR?”
  • Ask “does this partnership make sense?”

9. What hinders corporate innovation?

  • “..You have to take some bets, and you have to realize that many of them aren’t going to work”
  • “.. death by committee… It’s innovation efforts, not a democracy!”
  • “..the reality is they didn’t put an A player in charge of the innovation effort. So they put somebody who plateaued at the organization, who’s been there a while, and it’s their special project”

10. Clearly large organisations have innovative people, why arent these individuals stepping up?

  • “There are entrepreneurs in your organization, without a doubt. But really, the true entrepreneurs are probably thinking about leaving to pursue some of those ideas”. Unless the right incentives are made available to those entrepreneurs, but Anand explains that its more than just incentives…..
  • “.. people want to know that if they make an impact…. that they’ll be personally impacted.”
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11. Corporate Innovation – What NOT to do:

  • This touches many of the above points, are you simply trying to look innovative – or is innovation something entrenched in your organisation?
  • “hire a chef, make up interesting, crazy titles….  [having an] open floor plan…. [and] an Xbox. Talking incessantly about embracing innovation, visiting Silicon Valley…Launching an accelerator…[implement] a good, old casual dress code…hire somebody who leveled out at Google or Apple and bringing them in to head up your innovation efforts”
  • All of these are nicely depicted in a hilarious infographic – 8 Simple Ways to Look More Innovative


Corporate innovation is a fascinating topic and Anand’s presentation was pretty top notch. The above is just a small taster, check out the full webinar transcript for further details.

5 thoughts on “11 Powerful Corporate Innovation Truths by CB Insights

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