This is a really interesting read on the necessity of today’s companies that must marry continuous disruption and continuous innovation in order to grow and thrive. This article isn’t so much about technical innovation as it is a resource on how to manage the people responsible for moving companies forward, by creating a culture through organization that promotes “innovation by design”.
In the 20th century corporate skunk works were used to develop disruptive innovation separate from the rest of the company. They were the hallmark of innovative corporations.
By the middle of the 21st century the only companies with skunk works will be the ones that have failed to master continuous innovation. Skunk works will be the signposts of companies that will be left behind.
In the 20th century companies could be leaders in a market for decades by just focusing on their core product(s). Most companies incrementally improved their products with process innovation (better materials, cheaper, product line extensions) and/or through acquisitions. Building disruptive products were thought of as “risky” and a distraction since it was not “core” to the company and did not fit existing corporate structures. Why make big bets if no one was asking for them and competitors weren’t doing so.
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