• I’ve had several discussions recently with large enterprise business leaders who say they need both “newness” and “innovation” in their operations and products. They say that “they want to see disruptive changes in their products, services and technologies.”

However, when presented with new ideas, they all too often respond as follows:

  • “Well, that’s not the way it works here.”
  • “You really don’t understand our constraints.”
  • “I don’t think we really need a startup’s help; we can figure this out ourselves.” 

Einstein reportedly said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” When applying this to enterprises, innovation requires a mindset change, and that change is often threatening to the status quo, particularly within large business organizations. 

Consider the following mindset changes:

  • Plugging into a network of smart people—outside the enterprise—with diverse backgrounds, experiences and skills is not only possible today but critical if enterprise businesses hope to see the future. Understanding that no single team has all the answers.
  • Operating with trust and a high level of integrity, while both enterprise and startup agree to partner and protect one another’s work.
  • Being open to new ways of working: 1) working collaboratively with smaller, more agile startup companies and 2) creating internal processes to more accurately test, iterate and validate new processes, products and services.
  • Expecting and making it safe for employees to partner with entrepreneurs outside the enterprise to solve common problems, learn and share.
  • Allowing and expecting that enterprise employees invest some of their work week to researching new ideas, networking with entrepreneurs, and creating solutions that may or may not be applicable to their role in the enterprise.

If you’re part of a large enterprise, look around at the other businesses driving innovation and understand how differently they are working internally. If you’re an entrepreneur, find enterprise partners with whom you value the partnerships.