How leading companies search for their next big thing.
The classic product development process isn't the only way to innovate. Increasingly, executives are exploring incubators, accelerators, partnerships, and corporate venture capital to complement their traditional innovation efforts. These approaches are particularly valuable for longer-term bets farther from the core that carry some uncertainty.
By developing facility with these approaches, organizations can take a holistic view of growth opportunities that encompasses core, adjacent, and noncore activities; that accommodates diverse methods of collaboration and start-up support; and that allows for different rates of development in different spheres. Some forward-looking companies are already using all or some of this suite of tools to gain an edge in today’s hypercompetitive environment. Energy companies are experimenting with new business models in the new renewable-energy field. Automotive companies are expanding their product portfolios and broadening their ecosystems through investments in mobility systems and new financing models. In each case, companies are leveraging their business-incubation, venturing, and partnership activities to broaden their innovation efforts and reveal opportunities in corners of the business world that they had not previously explored.
When correctly applied, these tools enable companies to engage with other organizations in various stages of development, from start-ups still in product development to companies in their early growth stages to mature enterprises. They also enable companies to commit to a range of time horizons with varying levels of financial investment.