It has always been a challenge for large corporations to adopt change.  There is constant change being experienced at all institutions but, despite the appetite for change, the size of an organisation often hamstrings its ability to execute on innovative initiatives.

So, what differentiates those who can deliver successful change versus those who cannot?  In one word: Execution!

Execution is the biggest differentiator between small, agile and nimble businesses and their much larger counterparts.  Even if you put to one side the classic large corporate roadblocks (such as organisational complexity and bureaucracy), it’s clear that those who decide to take the leap of faith and try to change the world by starting their own businesses seem to be able to avoid and, often, ignore convention to deliver significant change.

Innovation in large organisations must pass through many layers of change management and control which frequently ties the hands of those who are the agents of change. Equally frequently, organisational politics have an adverse impact.  This is not true of ‘Upstarts’.

‘Upstarts’ break the glass ceiling of ‘the norm’ to create change by significantly improving an existing system or reinventing a process, convention, etc.  But one must question why it is easier for Upstarts to achieve significant change where larger organisations struggle and fail to achieve the same success.

Is it because Upstarts have more skills or able people to execute change?  Probably not, although one must believe Upstart people form a more focused collective.  It’s much simpler than that – it’s a matter of having the time and inclination to apply that collective focus to the achievement of a single objective.  Having, as a sole objective, creating and delivering industry augmenting technology will result in an executable product roadmap and realistic delivery timelines.

Execution is the biggest differentiator between small, agile and nimble businesses and their much larger counterparts

However, there is one area in which large corporates have the upper hand: domain expertise.  Upstarts, by virtue of their size, generally do not have the breadth of expertise of larger organisations.  There are many Upstarts who are capable and indeed do produce top of the line tech solutions.  However, often these same single solutions providers (focus!) struggle to appreciate and navigate the vast array of problems large FS organisations are looking to address. Due to these information gaps, solutions can often result in not being fully fit for purpose and therefore hinder an Upstarts ability to precisely satisfy the needs of large FS corporates.

In addition, large organisations have deep pockets.  This allows them to research and develop solutions internally or to attract external innovation by setting up Innovation Labs, or both.  The main objective of these Labs is to experiment with and identify the kind of innovation that will create competitive advantage.  Upstarts may find themselves part of the Innovation Lab or even acquired in the process.

While Innovation Labs may ensure large players don’t get left behind, there is a big opportunity being missed.  This is the integration of external innovation with internal processes and capabilities.  Acquisitions should be aligned with internal use cases i.e. known (or guessed at) issues with existing business workflows such as efficiency gains.  The main reason seems to be that each is located in its own silo.

Having, as a sole objective, creating and delivering industry augmenting technology will result in an executable product roadmap and realistic delivery timelines

So internal use cases (areas in need of improvement and change) are not connected to potential external innovative solutions.  And this is not to speak of the bigger challenge which is to identify those use cases in the first place.  This raises a number of questions:

  • Does the right type of resource exist?
  • Can available internal staff ask the right questions?
  • Is an independent party better placed to conduct such an exercise?
  • Will this be prevented by internal politics?
  • Who’s going to pay for the work?
  • Who’s going to take ownership?
  • … and the list goes on.

Successful organisations engage the right people at the right level internally as well as identify and breakdown the ability of Upstarts to address wide ranging and often long-standing issues.  This takes a certain type of skill set including

  • The ability to face off across the corporate spectrum
  • Applying the correct level of domain expertise and insight, and
  • The ability and expertise to collaborate with Upstarts; to name but a few.

Entrepreneurs, especially the good ones, know that if failure is to happen, it happens fast.  This requires the ability to EXECUTE. 

The common thread: entrepreneurship. Why?

Entrepreneurs, especially the good ones, know that if failure is to happen, it happens fast.  This requires the ability to EXECUTE.  Getting the job done is very high on the agenda for any entrepreneur.  Lateral and cohesive thinking is also vital.  Steve Jobs once said, “creativity is just merging things” and entrepreneurs do this better than anyone and tend to find ways through means others don’t or won’t pursue through such approaches as marginal gains.

Entrepreneurs don’t have all the answers. Not at all.  But to bridge the gap between larger, more conventional-minded organisations and newer Upstarts, one must have the ability to “intersect the old world with the new”.  An excellent example of this was the event we ran Data Innovation Uncovered and the work we continue to do in the FinTech space including in Enterprise Blockchain and Client Lifecycle Management.

We love to talk about this intersection and encourage free and open conversation so please feel free to get in touch to share your thoughts or indeed to hear more of ours.

To bridge the gap between larger, more conventional-minded organisations and newer Upstarts, one must have the ability to “intersect the old world with the new”

Dishang Patel

Dishang Patel

Partner

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