One of the big challenges in these budget-crunching, resource-stretching times is finding the space to innovate. The idea of adopting a 70:20:10 approach creates some interesting possibilities for building innovation into the fabric of what you do, as does opening up the raw material (data, content, ideas) to third parties through APIs and customer interaction platforms. But it's all too easy for fragile ideas to be sacrificed at the alter of the latest quarterly target.
So I think it's interesting that when Walmart bought a small Silicon Valley start up called Kosmix last year, they chose to turn it into WalmartLabs - a unit designed to push Walmart’s capabilities in mobile and social R & D. For me, this approach has several benefits:
- It provides a route to bringing in new tech talent into a large organisation
- More than that, it protects the culture from being stifled by corporate-world and stops the talent from getting caught up in the system. In doing so it provides a better environment to attract other tech talent.
- Being unshackled from existing business cycles and processes means a better chance of increasing the speed of innovation
- Freedom to structure around small, nimble, non-hierarchical teams – like Amazon’s Two Pizza teams approach
- Facilitating the ease with which the organisation can work in flexible ways with third parties and external tech talent
- Giving you the space to create the future (Box 3 in Three-box thinking)
The downside of this I guess is the risk of compartmentalising innovation in ways that isolate it or worse, disenfranchise others. My hunch though is that done in the right way, the benefits of this approach (particularly for large organisations) far outweigh the drawbacks. Anyone agree/disagree?
HT to Tom for the Vijay Govindarajan link