What the Corporate Company of the Future Looks Like

December 18, 2023

What the Corporate Company of the Future Looks Like

As the lifespans of organisations get shorter, it’s more important than ever to understand how organisations can avoid the black hole of bankruptcy and economic irrelevance.

What’s Wrong with the Modern Company?

The first is the short-term mindset and the second is an inability to discover what to create before taking something to market.

On short-termism, most organisations opt for conservative projects they (falsely) believe will yield predictable results to meet their quarterly KPIs. This means companies avoid taking risks, betting on new innovations and continue to do what they’ve always done, regardless of whether that approach still works.

On discovery, large organisations have finely tuned their systems for execution of existing business models and delivering existing products to market, but don’t have a process for what to create next. Let’s look at some of the symptoms arising from this.

Signs Your Company Is Living in the Past

  • Your organisation uses prescriptive metrics and tools, which pressure employees to meet short term, usually quarterly, goals.
  • Your organisation functions in compartmentalised silos. Projects tend to follow a stage-gate or waterfall process that passes work along after specific milestones have been met.
  • Risk is mitigated through tons of paperwork and compliance with meticulous legal and IT procedures.
  • Projects are measured against traditional metrics such as ROI, NPV, IRR and so on.
  • There are too many cooks in the kitchen for each project. There are too many managers, experts and opinions that don’t come with accountability for  implementation
  • There is unnecessary double-handling, triple-checking and way too many meetings that achieve little to nothing.
  • Large, expensive and slow-moving programs are pursued. More time is spent on planning, rather than execution. These big projects receive huge amounts of funding right from the get go.
  • Employees are focused on what’s right for them, rather than what’s right for the customer.
  • A culture that upholds the motto that ‘failure is not an option.’ Leaders may pay lip service to innovation and ‘embracing failure’ but their reward systems don’t back this up.

Sound familiar?

What do Companies of the Future Look Like?

In his latest book, The Startup Way, Eric Ries, founder of the global lean startup movement, argues that companies that last into the future will do so by having the capacity to produce products with great reliability and quality, while being able to discover what new products to produce.

Truly modern companies will:

  • Focus on continuous innovations and work towards long-term goals.
  • Comprise of inter-departmental teams that allow for cross-collaboration and open channels of communication.
  • Use a highly iterative method of working and leverage scientific processes, such as the Lean Startup.
  • Conduct rapid prototyping and rapid experiments that concentrate on customer needs.
  • Report and measure projects against innovation metrics.
  • Have innovation champions or teams whose role it is it to progress new projects and help employees uncover new ideas
  • Release small amounts of funding across a broad number of ideas, to maximise experimentation. Further funding is released as concepts are proven, validated learnings are achieved and traction gained.
  • Allow employees to get out of the building regularly to interface with customers and uncover their true needs and problems to be solved
  • Reward ‘good failure’ that inform decisions and provide useful information

Start Futureproofing Today

Companies serious about their future are in it for the long haul. Culture change, embedding an innovative mindset and introducing new processes don’t happen overnight, but here are some things you can get the ball rolling on now:

1. Upskill.

Introduce employees to innovative methodologies such as Lean Startup and Design Thinking. Getting your team familiar with the idea of experimentation and showing them how it’s done will help them to embrace innovation, empower them with practical tools and ensure they prioritise customers.

2. Show them how it’s done.

Commit time dedicated to rapid prototyping, to demonstrate how quickly new ideas can be built and tested. Giving employees the opportunity to design, test and iterate new concepts is terrific for building confidence and shifting mindsets, while not blowing your budget.

3. Get your hands dirty.

Kickstart the process of continuous innovation in your organisation, by showing employees how they can move like a startup. Running initiatives such as a hackathon provides team with an introduction to innovative methodologies and the opportunity to immediately applying the theory to real world problems. Here are some case studies of how Asahi and Australian Unity generated new insights about what customers wanted and moved the needle on innovation, through hackathons.

4. Go deep.

The best approach to kicking off your organisation’s innovation journey, is by honestly reflecting on what’s working and what’s not. Many organisations run headlong into activity without strategy. Prioritise your innovation initiatives by reviewing the systems, values, processes and resources that are inhibiting and enabling corporate innovation. Quantify where the organisation sits in terms of innovation maturity and creating a roadmap to the future.

5. Be deliberate about building innovation.

Although there is no silver bullet, there are some key ingredients in the recipe for building an innovative company. This requires managing the company’s processes, values and resources, towards enabling innovation. In this case, processes refer to how assets in the organisation are created, including patterns of interaction, coordination, communication, and decision-making through which resources are transformed into products and services of greater worth.

Values pertain to the company’s culture and how decisions are made, including existing attitudes about risk, failure, incentives and accountability. Resources encompass an organisation’s assets, both tangible and intangible, that contribute to what an organisation can accomplish. This includes people, technology, intellectual property, finances, customers and more. Without alignment of processes, values and resources, innovation is unlikely to flourish.

Need help getting started on your innovation journey? Or maybe you’ve been running innovation initiatives without seeing much change? We always love to hear from fellow innovators so give us a bell on (03) 9020-2010 or email us at [email protected] to set up a time to chat!

Innovate or die.

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Frances Goh

Frances is the General Manager of Innovation and Strategy at Collective Campus. She is an innovation consultant, brand strategist and customer champion.

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