The Corporate Startup
The Corporate Startup, by Tendayi Viki, Dan Toma and Esther Gons
The business environment has been radically shaken up in recent years by the emergence of startups. These young, ambitious businesses can’t hope to match the resources of their corporate competitors, yet many are thriving while the established giants of industry, such as Kodak and Nokia, publicly struggle.
This is bad news for corporations, and the outlook is only set to get worse. The average lifespan of companies is getting shorter and it is predicted that the entire S&P 500 index will be replaced by 2027.
After decades at the top, the major corporations face an unprecedented challenge not only to their bottom lines but also their very survival.
On such shifting sands, it’s evident that the big corporate players need to raise their innovation game. They can no longer simply pour billions into new products and expect there to be a loyal customer base ready and waiting to hand over their cash at the end of it.
But massive corporations can’t simply start ‘acting like startups’ to claw back the advantage as the two are very different beasts. The former is concerned with executing and maintaining a long-term business model while the latter is driven by constant adaptation as it strives to find a scalable, repeatable model.
The solution to this challenge can be found between the pages of award-winning new business book The Corporate Startup, co-authored by three of the most respected innovation experts working today. These are Tendayi Viki, the Thinkers50-nominated founder and principal consultant at strategy and innovations consultancy firm Benneli Jacobs; international business speaker and NEXT.amsterdam startup consultancy founder Esther Gons; and European entrepreneurship community leader Dan Toma.
Together, they have devised a new hybrid business model especially for corporations that takes a ‘dual approach’, blending the traditional strengths of companies such as solid planning, heavy investment in product R&D, and established customer bases and output channels, with the best of the ‘lean start-up’ approach: ongoing innovation, experimentation and a keen ear for customer feedback at every stage.
This model is set out clearly in The Corporate Startup so that business leaders as well as heads of strategy, innovation or transformation can start effecting the changes within their own companies.
The book’s central idea is that corporations need to start viewing themselves as innovation ecosystems rather than single monolithic organisations as they have done in the past, balancing a range of products, services and business models under the aegis of the parent company. Different management tools will then apply to products that have proven executable business models compared to those still searching for scalability.
The authors of The Corporate Startup, which recently won a CMI Management Book of the Year award in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship category, acknowledge that there are inherent challenges in pursuing an ambidextrous policy of developing new products for new markets while simultaneously managing the core business, but they provide all the frameworks, templates, tools and techniques, as well as many enlightening case studies, to make it happen.
The only thing they can’t deliver is the will to adapt, but after reading this book it will only be the most complacent corporate leaders who don’t agree that it is time to change or die.