What is the biggest obstacle to large companies innovating and disrupting their industries? It may be perception. In an era where entrepreneurs are romanticized, we have become conditioned to believe that innovation begins and ends with small startups. Gary Pisano, the Harry E. Figgie Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and a renowned authority on growth and innovation strategy, says the first step to surviving disruption is to recognize that big is actually beautiful.
For three decades, Professor Pisano has researched and advised companies of all sizes, from the Fortune 500 to startups. His forthcoming book, “Creative Construction: The DNA of Sustained Innovation” (PublicAffairs, January 2019), puts a new lens on the conventional wisdom surrounding innovation. In it, he offers leaders of large companies a concrete, actionable framework for devising the right innovation strategy, systems and cultural practices that perpetuate change – rather than guard against it.
Large firms have more resources and a greater ability to withstand risk-taking than startups. But they also have different pressures and demands (i.e., investors and stakeholders). Therefore, their strategies must differ from those of their smaller, nimbler competitors. Having studied companies of all magnitudes, Pisano concludes that size is no barrier to vigor and vitality.
“If larger enterprises struggle with innovation, it is due to leadership, not size,” says Pisano. “By crafting the right strategies, systems and cultures, large companies can become just as effective at transformative innovation as startups.”
Whatever an organization’s needs, demands, strengths or weaknesses, “Creative Construction” (now available for pre-order on Amazon) offers a new perspective for seeing disruption as an opportunity rather than a danger.