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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?

I’ve tabulated about 50 distinct barriers so far.

But what is most fascinating is that the answers are shifting.

During my first few interviews I almost always got the same response: big companies can’t be agile because they are stuck in what Clayton Christensen termed “The Innovator’s Dilemma”.  They are too invested in the old to get excited by the new.

But probe deeper and you see this answer is often an easy excuse, an answer that resonates with others but is not actually the root cause. You see, large companies DO innovate. Progressive Insurance gave us Snapshot, McDonalds invented RedBox, and Apple produced the iPhone, iPad, etc.

The fact is, as human beings we are not driven by finding the truth; rather, we are driven to find a satisfying answer. As long as our answer helps us explain how the world works, fits with what we observe, and enables us to better predict what is going to happen, we stop searching for BETTER answers. We once thought Earth was a flat disc that the sun rotated around. That answer was good enough because it fit what we observed. It was not until scientists applied more advanced methods and technology (like telescopes) that we started thinking, “Wait a minute, this flat Earth idea doesn’t really match with what we are seeing in the skies.”

The answer is not the truth. It’s a word or tool or concept that we use to try to explain the truth. There is a Buddhist saying that when you point at the moon, don’t confuse your finger for the moon. In other words, don’t confuse the language you use to point to the truth with the truth itself.

And this is where I believe we are in the inquiry into whether big companies can innovate. Crowds of people are getting excited by words like “innovator’s dilemma” and “corporate anti-bodies” and “agile” – words that support the view that big companies are fundamentally challenged in their ability to introduce new things. I believe what we are experiencing now is not the truth, but people starting to convene around an exciting idea that helps explain the frustration they feel in their efforts to introduce new ideas inside their corporations. We are like a farmer who likes the flat-Earth theory because it helps us measure our land and predict the seasons. We want to hold on to that false model of the world because we feel discomfort whenever we have to change our beliefs. We have a belief that works, that is comforting, that feeds us with a sense of knowing.

But look around.

It is simply not true.

There is enough evidence against the apparent “truth” that big organizations cannot introduce big ideas.

“8Ps” of StrategyOpportunity
for Disruption
Recommended Leverage Points
Position- The farmers, individual and corporate, that you are targeting.

- The need of the agricultural industry that you seek to fill.
3- What technologies do you control that can help you tap into market
segments that you previously thought unreachable?

- What are the potential business alliances you could think about with key players in the segment to serve your customers with integrated solutions? (Serving customers with more integrated solutions example: serving farmers with fertilizers, crop protection and other).
Product- The products you offer, and the characteristics that affect their value to customers.

- The technology you develop for producing those products.
8- What moves are your organization taking to implement Big Data and analytics to your operations? What IoT and blockchain applications can you use?

- What tools and technology could you utilize or develop to improve food quality, traceability, and

- How can you develop a more sustainable production model to accommodate constraints on arable

- What is the future business model needed to serve new differentiated products to your customers?
Promotion- How you connect with farmers and consumers across a variety of locations and industries.
- How to make consumers, producers, and other stakeholders aware of your products and services.
8- How are you connecting your product with individual and corporate farms who could utilize it?
- How could you anticipate market and customer needs to make customers interested in accessing your differentiated products?
PriceHow consumers and other members of the agricultural supply chain pay for access to agricultural products.7- What elements of value comprise your pricing? How do each of those elements satisfy the varying needs of your customers?
Placement- How food products reach consumers. How the technologies, data, and services reach stakeholders in the supply chain.9- What new paths might exist for helping consumers access the food they desire?
- How are you adapting your operations and supply chain to accommodate consumers’ desire for proximity to the food they eat?
- How could you anticipate customer expectation to make products more
accessible to customers/agile supply chain?
- Have you considered urbanization as a part of your growth strategy?
- How your food satisfies the needs and desires of your customer.
- How the services you provide to agribusiness fulfill their needs.
9- Where does your food rate on a taste, appearance, and freshness
- Could the services you provide to companies and farms in the agriculture industry be expanded to meet more needs?
- What senses does your food affect besides hunger? How does your
customer extract value from your food in addition to consumption?
Processes- Guiding your food production operations in a manner cognizant of social pressure.8- How can you manage the supply chain differently to improve traceability and reduce waste?
- How can you innovate systems in production, processing, storing, shipping, retailing, etc.?
- What are new capabilities to increase sustainability (impact on the environment, or ESG) components?
People- The choices you make regarding hiring, organizing, and incentivizing your people and your culture.- How are you leveraging the agricultural experience of your staff bottom-up to achieve your vision?
- How do you anticipate new organizational capabilities needed to perform your future strategy (innovation, exponential technologies needed, agile customer relationship, innovative supply chain)?
- How do you manage your talents to assure suitable development with exposure in the agrifood main challenges/allowing a more sustainable view of the opportunities/cross-sectors?