I am playing a game. My goal is to interview 10 innovators every week as part of my new book project. Each time I learn something, but every now and then I hear a story that opens up an entirely new perspective.
My friend and client Doug is one of those rare crossbreeds of seasoned entrepreneur and capable big-company operator. A mathematician by training, he spent 18 years with a small company moving from engineering to sales, then joined a start-up that grew 40% per year for seven years before selling to Raytheon. An acquisition or two later and he found himself in a senior role at one the largest engineering companies – and one of the largest companies period – in the world.
Every week I interview five to 10 innovators and innovation experts as part of my book project. Each time I ask the same question: In your experience, what are the greatest barriers to innovative ideas realizing their potential inside large organizations?
You’ve got the idea. You know it will work. If only you can move fast enough, keep up the pace of those younger, smaller startups. The opportunity should be yours but you worry that bureaucracy will slow you down.
I’d say I bat about 500. For every 1,000 goals I’ve set for myself, if I am truly honest, I’ve hit maybe 500 of them. I wanted to write a book … and I wrote a book. I wanted to build a successful investment fund … well, that’s still a work in progress. I married the woman of my dreams but I don’t (yet) have the six-pack abs of my dreams.
Thousands of years ago, hunter-gatherers huddled around campfires would share stories of the “great hunt” or battle. Our heroes in these narratives left the safety of camp, clad in leather, wielding swords, stepped into dark woods to battle a mythically large creature or enemy, and returned in glory with meat to feed a village.
Whether you come up with an idea on your own or a colleague shares it with you, you will invariably find yourself at a fork in your career road. Is this an idea worth pursuing?
Serial entrepreneur Bernee Strom has built a career thinking ahead in fast-moving markets, from electronics to television. She has served or is serving on the boards of companies like Benchmark Electronics, Hughes Electronics/ DirectTV, and Polaroid and is now the Chairman & CEO of WebTuner (www.webtuner.tv), a company that may transform how we access TV. So when we got chance to ask her how she does it, we jumped. Here is what she she had to say.
Love it or hate it, your success this year and beyond depends on your ability to shape a brand: your career’s, product’s, department’s, or company’s.