Innovation in Legacy Companies

by Feb 7, 2014

We have all discussed the demise of Kodak somewhere – at the dinner table, at a conference, in a meeting. Everyone uses Kodak as the anomaly – how can it be possible that a company like Kodak went into Chapter 11? Couldn’t happen to us!

Charles Warner, in a recent Forbes article, discusses the unbelievable lack of innovation in the media sector. How is that possible you ask? The sector is undergoing significant transformation, and so innovation and business reinvention must be top of mind for all senior executives, right?

Not so, says Charles. He sites a discussion with a colleague that goes something like this:

“First, it’s almost impossible to generate innovation in an industry whose entire organisational structure, policies, and rules are designed to minimise mistakes. Journalistic organisations such as newspapers don’t tolerate mistakes very well.

When I talk to friends who work at Google, Facebook, and several digital startups, they talk about “the team.” They embrace the notion that “only the team can win or fail” and talk about how they love working with their teams and at their companies.

When I talk to friends who work at legacy media companies, I often hear, “I hate my co-workers; they’re so backstabbing,” or “I hate my boss; she tries to take credit for everything.” And why not? Legacy media companies’ reward and incentivise individual contribution and star power, not team success. The result is no innovation because of fear of making a mistake or a craving for individual credit.”

As someone who delivers a postgraduate course on Business Transformation to MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Management, discussions like this continue to astound me. However I have now come to the view that organisations that are unable to grasp the need for business transformation and execute change will be short-lived – much more so than before.

Jeffrey Tobias

About Jeffrey Tobias

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well-known startups.

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Managing Director, The Strategy Group

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.

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