Co-founder and Chief Executive of Johnson Corner
How to create new teams or divisions by developing products for new or existing clients?
Photo credit: Dom Prestidge
The speed of change is setting new standards for enterprise innovation. Over the last ten years, we have witnessed the rise of Entrepreneurial Management driving culture transformation and long-term growth in enterprises. Modern companies today are founded on continuous innovation, a focus on long-term growth, executing rapid experiments, managing projects similar to how venture capitalists manage startups, are made of leaders and entrepreneurs, and are protected by a competitive edge. Such a transformation to becoming a modern company can seem radical, however, a transformation roadmap can be executed whilst operating at scale. Toyota and GE are among a few large enterprises who have transformed their organisation by introducing Entrepreneurial Management. The most critical aspect is to get started so here is my guide on how to do exactly that!
Start Small. Break big ideas into actionable experiments, market it to a minimal sizeable market, and pull together a small team of champions with a proven record to execute.
It takes a lot of effort to unify leadership direction and create an entry-point to innovation, however, no company sits still; leaders are either constantly writing strategy papers or engaging in strategic thinking sessions. In large organisations, most commonly, leaders tend to prioritise and set budgets for executing major projects. Instead, push for fast, incremental experiments over big bets and high investment changes. This will lead to developing a portfolio of experiments, with the top 3 experiments prioritised as your best starting point to creating a new offering. Next, put together a team with individuals who have showcased recent success in executing projects with high uncertainty of deliverables and outcomes.
Relocate the team to a new space. Having the right environment and energy is critical to creating a new focus for the team.
The first mistake commonly made is; the new team is not moved out of their existing workplace. Not only this invites distraction, but also, the energy of the workplace can mentally limit the team to focus on the challenges of creating a new offering. I also recommend that the team focuses one project at a time, instead of running multiple experiments at one given time. If your organisation does not have a dedicated innovation space, then look for a flexible workspace that offers a dedicated innovation space and services. A fresh environment not only creates new energy but also, bonds this new team quickly - driving productivity, creativity and results.
Speed vs Quality. Maintain the right balance between the speed of experimentation and quality of implementation.
To contain the risk around organisational reputation, it is best that a small budget is approved to execute the first experiment - which usually involves completing a value hypothesis. This puts pressure on the team to execute at speed, whilst maintaining the quality of implementation. The team will be challenged with deciding; what corners to cut, what features can be minimal, and what features must be of great quality? The best way to know if you have got the balance right is; by listening to the set of customers you're testing the concept product with. I prefer capturing feedback by applying the Innovation Accounting framework.
Outcomes vs Outputs. Be laser-focused on the outcomes, not the outputs, by maintaining alignment and pivoting.
The pressure of high uncertainty, constant adaptation, and full accountability can be challenging. Most commonly, teams end up focusing on winning battles, not wars. It is important to constantly audit the alignment between outputs and outcomes and be willing to change the outputs to achieve the outcomes. If the team feels that the outcomes need to be adapted as well, then a meeting with the sponsor will allow the team to discuss why to consider pivoting. I prefer using OKRs framework to maintain the focus of a team on outcomes.
Setup a growth board. Maintain a system that controls quality, without compromising the speed at which a product is launched in a market.
Framing the challenges of building new divisions while operating at scale with the current business is paramount. Operations can kill new ideas very quickly if the new teams or divisions (in the making) do not get the right support. This is where you need a growth board. It brings permanent new capability that leverages the mindset and mechanics of entrepreneurship and venture capital to deliver an always-on pipeline of new growth at speed and quality.
Spread learnings across the organisation. As the first team succeeds with the first product offering, spread the success stories and inspire others to join new teams or experiments as supported by the growth board.
The ultimate goal is to have an organisation that knows how to constantly transform itself as disruption becomes the new normal in the global marketplace, in the 21st century. To achieve this, the initial success stories are important as they inspire the operational teams to pick up new ways of working and they also inspire employees to join the next new team that is being formed. The growth board eventually plays a crucial role in ensuring that new business is being created constantly whilst current operations are being modernised through the knowledge and inspiration of the new teams and divisions.
About our innovation space in New Plymouth City
We launched our innovation space and services in New Plymouth because the region has a strong presence of established enterprises that have the opportunity to transform and launch new businesses by creating new experiments, teams, and divisions, whilst operating current businesses at scale. We established the first innovation space in Taranaki that offers a workspace, dedicated innovation manager, and tailored innovation programming. Our work profile spans across law firms, Māori organisations, education providers, local government, advanced manufacturing firms, financial institutions and early-stage technology startups.