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On December 8th I had the amazing opportunity to join the group that is at the avant-garde of corporate innovation. I was invited to share my perspective on Venture Building and Portfolio Management at the Innov8rs Connect Conference from my experience as a startup founder.

I remember exactly one year ago, I was watching these exact talks, with awe, amazement, and brightness in my eyes, like a child seeing the Avengers in action for the first time.

And it really moved and humbled me to then see a couple of these same “idols” actually watching my talk this time and coming later to connect and exchange ideas. …


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Photo by MARTINA ALBERTAZZI/BLOOMBERG NEWS

In the last couple of weeks, the main buzz going around the tech and innovation scene was the shutdown of Hollywood’s hyped entertainment/tech company Quibi. As I read through all the news and articles talking about what seems to be the innovation flop of the pandemic era, I couldn't help but notice so many patterns and similarities with the 2000s dot-com bubble.

To be fair, the last thing I want to do in this article is to sound like a nasty critic/hater, pointing out what went wrong in hindsight. That is very easy to do when you don't have skin in the game. I know from experience the hardship of having to make critical business decisions, knowing the impact it could have on the lives and money of other people, and lived the consequences of many not so great outcomes that came from them. So I respect and honor the boldness of going out there and trying to make it happen, no matter what. But I believe there were evident signs of previous, well-known, mistakes happening that could have been avoided. …


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Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

In a previous article, I did a deep dive into how Lean succeeds in great start-ups and how this success does not always translate in large corporations. Often, these corporations fail because they’re matching Apples to Peaches.

The Lean methodology is driven by internet-age thinking models. It is fluid, fast, and largely free of the rigid, multi-level oversight that underlies the core business processes of large corporations. Successful startups that have applied the methodology admittedly benefit from an agility driven by their small size. But that’s not their only advantage. …


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Photo by Li Lin on Unsplash

Why do large companies struggle with Lean Startup? The answer to this question can often depend on where you are considering the problem from.

Many experts have tried to address the question already. Some, very well, like Steve Blank in his recent interview with the MIT Sloan Review, others, not as much. But one thing is certain… I will not bore you with another shot at trying to do so.

Instead, this article is devoted to providing a more pragmatic approach to what large corporations must do to avoid failing with Lean Startup. While many have pointed at different reasons why the methodology has failed in large companies, such as GE, there’s still a consensus that it is valuable and effective, when correctly applied. …


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Unless you’re either an economist, work in the financial markets, or is a modern economy history buff, chances are you’ll have a short-term memory for these kinds of things, but working for many years as a trader and portfolio manager, most of the economic crisis that happened during my adult life are still very vivid memories in my brain (and also the reason I insanely called my friends to buy stocks when the COVID-19 outbreak collapsed the markets — you’re welcome for the 40% there, buddies).

When I decided to leave the stock market to build startups in the early 2010s, the story of the 2000 Nasdaq dot-com bubble started to pop up again through readings and random conversations. But this time it had a different approach to it, one that only began to make sense when I started building startups myself. …


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It has been for too long that corporate innovators have been losing their sleep… well, better yet, their budgets, to other business units in board meetings, simply because innovation “doesn’t generate short-term revenue”, or “is only accounted as a cost and liability”, and my favorite one: “is more of an art than a science that can be measured”.

This might have been true in the past but in the data-driven world we live in today, that is no excuse. The good news is that it is fairly simple to start bringing up strong arguments to counter the ones above during board meetings and fighting for that corporate innovation budget with a little more grit. …


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There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit individuals and businesses hard all over the world.

Reports indicate that in the US, more than 3 million people have filed for unemployment already this year and in their best estimates, experts predict that the economic turmoil of the pandemic will cost the global economy trillions of dollars. Essentially, we’re smack in the middle of a global crisis of unprecedented proportions.

For most businesses, the natural instinct at this time would be to enter into disaster management mode. …


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How far are we from having true ambidextrous corporations as the norm? When is corporate innovation, in the 2020 sense of it, finally going to become mainstream? Companies that have the ability to both focus on their core business and yet, still look forward and truly invest in new, disruptive (and, yes, quite uncertain) horizons of innovation? Why is it taking so long? Because more and more I feel that companies are napping at their posts and letting startups come in and take over.

We all know the famous cases of empires that got buried by innovative companies, like Blockbuster and Netflix, Kodak and digital cameras, the entire music industry and Apple. But it seems like we have a short memory, or it simply is that we are too afraid to believe in William Gibson’s quote: “The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.” But it is getting evenly distributed, my friends. …

About

Rafael Chaves Lopes

I help corporate innovators measure and improve innovation R&D performance.

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