A faltering economy leaves little room for innovation within a large, established company. More than ever, employees with good ideas who want to innovate are met with critical scrutiny and demands for a well fleshed-out investment proposal: before an innovation gets the green light, it needs to be proved that this innovation will be successful. Successful and lucrative. And that’s exactly what you can’t ever know in advance for a true innovation.
That’s why more and more creative and innovative people are leaving large organisations, to start an enterprise of their own or go abroad. There are currently 30,000 Dutch people in Silicon Valley, and they certainly aren’t filling in Excel spreadsheets or begging for innovation budgets there. In fact, there is a large money surplus in the Valley at this moment. If you have a compelling idea, have good presentation skills and are willing to put in a few years of hard work, investors will be glad to have a talk with you.
But that won’t solve the ever growing problem we have with innovation within large, established companies in the Netherlands. Of the 100 largest companies here, at least 50 are bulky, lumbering oil tankers following the same heading they have been for years. How do we abandon this stagnated approach to innovation, without having to spend a fortune, and maybe lure a few great Dutch innovators back from the Valley as well?
It’s simple: have the oil tanker deploy some speedboats. Set out small teams of innovative people, let them work on their own with their own budget, and let them collaborate on an innovation with students and scientists. A speedboat can do that at a fraction of the cost. And another advantage of a speedboat is that it can move freely across the water without getting stuck on the shoals of the vested interests of the company’s internal politics.