Insight of the Week Innovation Up Against the Wall

Innovation Up Against the Wall

by Peter Temes, Founder & President of ILO

A young billionaire – his grandfather had started what was by then the third-largest media company in the US – pretty much pushed me against the wall in the VIP wine cave at a fabulous restaurant in Texas. “We’ve been paying you plenty to help us get really, really good at innovation. Now put it on a bumper-sticker for me. What’s the answer to making a big company good at innovation?”

He waited. I hesitated. He said “Come on. Cut the crap. We already paid for this.”

I replied: “Lower the cost of failure.” And he kind of liked that, to his surprise – and mine. Lower the cost of failure. That actually *is* the answer, the number-one, highest-value best practice for innovation in large organizations.

Of all the large orgs we work with, those who are consistently better over time at launching new programs, products and plans – those who navigate change like champions and launch new businesses and business models that actually work – are no better than most each time they come up to bat. But they smartly, systematically lower the cost of failure in terms of time, money, brand and customer relationship, and political cost to staffers who sign on to programs that don’t work.

That’s how large organizations become great innovators.