Embracing Collective Disruption


In his book “Collective Disruption:   How Corporations & Startups Can Co-Create Transformative New Businesses,’ Michael Docherty lays out a vision of how established companies can create a strategy for innovation that includes partnering with startups, thereby enabling an “innovation ecosystem.”   This post is the fourth of ten reviewing the various chapters of his book in preparation for the Leadership Forum 2016 event put on by the Chicagoland chapter of the Project Management Institute on May 20th, 2016.

In the first part of his book , Michael explains the reason why open innovation is the recipe for creating innovation that is truly transformative, rather than just maintaining or expanding the core business.   In the second part of his book, he lays out his prescription for “collective disruption” as a way to achieve that open innovation ecosystem.

Why can’t corporations and startups partner in venture co-creation similar to value creation networks (as discussed in chapter 3).    One objection that is often raised when bringing up such a possibility is the matter of culture:    corporations and startups are often thought of as having cultures that are different as oil and water.

In order to solve complex problems, one needs to leverage polarities as an ongoing process.    The apparent paradoxes between corporate and entrepreneurial approaches are polarities that we can harness.

Corporate approaches are, on the positive end of the polarity scale:

  • disciplined
  • strategic & business-focused
  • scalable

Entrepreneurial approaches are, on the other hand:

  • fast
  • agile
  • creatively courageous

Of course, with every yin there is a yang, so corporate approaches on the negative end show the following attributes:

  • bureaucratic
  • slow
  • risk-averse

where entrepreneurial approaches have the following drawbacks

  • reactionary
  • chaotic
  • starved & desperate

Here reactionary means reacting to an event rather than moving towards a well thought out goal, as opposed to the sense of being politically reactionary.

The idea is that you want to leverage a partnership that accentuates the positive in both, and reduces the negatives on both sides as well.

Let’s go over the positive aspects of the corporate approach and entrepreneurial approach and list the action steps in parentheses that help achieve them.

  • CORPORATE:  disciplined (engagement & support from senior management)
  • CORPORATE:  strategic (aligning ventures to business strategies)
  • CORPORATE:  scalable (accessing scalability of opportunities)
  • ENTREPRENEURIAL:   fast (focus on learning & experiments)
  • ENTREPRENEURIAL:  agile (programs are pivoting based on learning)
  • ENTREPRENEURIAL:  creatively courageous (sufficient autonomy for new business teams)

In the next post, I will discuss chapter 5 which discusses the wider collective disruption framework.

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