MARTE VERSUS VENERE

The collaboration between large corporations and small enterprises and start-ups: that’s the open-innovation paradigma. Anyway, sometimes the dialogue between two cultures and mindsets is quite difficult and they often come into conflict early in a relationship.
In a recent post, Stefan Lindegaard analyses the 7 key differences, the most common misunderstandings and the best attitudes to face them for a win-win collaboration.

SPEED OF DECISION-MAKING

Large corporations, with their abundance of silos and bureaucratic levels, often require considerable time to make decisions, while in smaller organizations decision-making can be fairly rapid. That causes frustration in smaller partners. At the same time, the people from the large corporation may be troubled by the constant pleas of the smaller partner to move faster. In order to avoid misunderstandings, partners should preliminarly agree a clear time schedule for go/ no go in any stages of the process.

 

ATTITUDE TOWARD RISK

How large and small companies feel about risk-taking can vary considerably. Particularly where the smaller company is a start-up or still in a fast-growth stage, the organization at all levels may wholly embrace risk because, at this point, the whole business is a risk. However, in a large corporation, people may be far more vested in keeping things as they’ve always been than they are in trying something new and potentially risky. Here again, this difference can lead to frustration on both sides when two such organizations engage in an open innovation partnership and clear preliminary agreements about the collaboration’s purpose are very important.

 

ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES

In a small company, resources, which can be scarce, are allocated based almost solely on whether they will boost the bottom line. This bottom line focus may not be so distinct in a larger corporation. That’s why small partners may perceive their bigger partners as spendth. However, on the contrary, the small company may not understand that even big companies have their limits. The result of such a relationship can be similar to problems that arise when two people with very different attitudes toward money and spending get married.

 

WHO UNDERSTANDS THE BUSINESS MODEL AND WHO MANAGES IT

In a small company it is much more likely that everyone in the company understands how the company works. Larger corporations tend to be much more fractured, and thus the staff is less likely to understand the whole. Moreover, in big corporations, people feel responsible for only their portion, or sphere, of control., which is manifested in being able to influence decisions or budgets. These points can lead to frustration for smaller companies, which may sense a lack of passion among corporate employees  and a slowdown in decision making.

 

PROCESS OF INNOVATION

Many small companies don’t yet have defined processes in place to drive innovation forward. This is one of the areas where, in theory, partnering with a larger company can really benefit them. However, large comporations tend to be good at incremental innovation (smaller-scale product improvements or extensions) but not the same in radical, highly disruptive innovation, which is what small companies are often looking for.

 

FOLLOWING RULES VERSUS BREAKING RULES

Big companies preoccupy themselves with the rules. Small companies are more inclined to make up new rules. Large companies have always used their size and power to get things their way. This may cause an imbalance in the relationship which may discourage other small companies to start a collaboration with big companies.

 

DIFFERING DEFINITIONS OF INNOVATION

There can be a real disconnect between the meaning of “innovation” between small and large companies. Some- perhaps most—large companies view innovation as a “super” product development team, something involving the R&D department. In contrast, at a start-up the “innovation” is their whole business, and developed wholly independently of the products and timelines of the large company.

 

IA IS PARTNER OF NINESIGMA, WORLDWIDE LEADER IN OPEN INNOVATION SERVICES

IA is partner of NineSigma, worldwide leader in Open Innovation services.When starting an open innovation partnership, you need to find the right partners and clearly define the rules of the game. InfiniteArea helps enterprises in this process, thanks to the exclusive partnership with NineSigma, worldwide leader in matcheing companies looking for a fast and effective innovation of products and processes (seekers) with a wide network of over 2.5 mio experts able to find solutions (solvers).

LEARN TO MANAGE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES

IA Executive Program Business Opportunity Management is an interactive and experiential training program intended to learn a smart management of innovation, using SPEED methodology (Spot-Plan-Experiment-Execute-Disseminate). With Adriano La Vopa, expert of strategic innovation, technology transfer, innovation management and open innovation, and Marco Battistella, head of Innovation in InfiniteArea, starting in March 2019.

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