The Corporate Innovation Ecosystem

I really enjoyed this visual on corporate innovation by Innovation Leader in collaboration with XPLANE. I even printed a poster-sized copy for my office and for workshop settings. The creators paid a lot of attention to details and there’s also some humour hidden deep inside the illustration.

I picked out a few aspects of the illustration that resonate with what I’m seeing in the field:

  1. The Core dominates: At most companies “the core” still dominates innovation. Business units with established business models and value propositions tend to dictate the innovation agenda. They favour short term gains through incremental and sustaining innovation over growth and transformative innovation where new value propositions or business models are uncovered, especially if it undercuts the core business.

  2. Innovation theatre: The poster’s attention to detail shows. It picks up on an idea from Steve Blank, serial entrepreneur and innovation thought leader, who likes to say that most companies mainly practice “innovation theater”. They all have innovation labs, corporate accelerators, hackathons, and internal idea competitions, but it’s all for show. These programs sit at the edge of a business and rarely have real power and impact.

  3. Customer access: The poster points to a real challenge in the innovation process: Access to customers (or the lack of it) in order to test the desirability and viability of new ideas early on. Today it’s sales, marketing, and support who own the customer relationship. That can slow progress and bar access to customers.


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