Agile Strategies and Start-up Thinking in Large Companies: How to Make It Actually Work

    By: Irene Spitsberg on Oct 01, 2015

    Agile Innovation and Lean Startups concepts have been around for a while. But if you ever tried to apply these entrepreneurial concepts in a large company, then you know that it is quite challenging and can be frustrating. (I know this from my first-hand experience). The reason for this is actually quite simple - because large companies are not start-ups. They are designed and operated differently. To innovate effectively, large companies can’t simply replicate start-up principles. Rather, they must adapt them in ways that are smart and tailored to their organization.

    Agile and Lean Start-ups are often thought of as team concepts. But if you are a leader in a large company, a successful approach is to ZOOM-OUT and think at the enterprise level.

    Meaning you begin by focusing not on individual entrepreneurial teams or their ideas, but rather on the strategic goals, priorities and organization’s competencies at large. Then, once you clarify these and identify the innovation capabilities’ gaps, you develop both new growth ideas and agile team processes that are closely aligned with your organization's strength, and that are likely to deliver commercial results.

    During the PDMA hosted web event next week, I will share with you my practical experience that I turned into Agile Thinking principles – a practical framework to build an effective and efficient innovation delivery system in your specific context. I will show you how you can apply these to turn three common pitfalls into opportunities:

    1.  When pursuing new growth opportunities, companies too often misjudge the magnitude of departure from their existing business model. As a result, they over-rely on their established innovation processes. This leads to “new initiative” projects stalling and not delivering because the existing processes aren’t the right match for new growth.
    2.  With many innovation trends continuously emerging on the scene, it is compelling to adopt them in the hope of achieving quick results. This typically fails because the introduced changes impact other processes and priorities potentially interrupting both “core” and “new” innovation.
    3.  Often, when pursuing outside the core opportunities, companies rely on the creation of “Front End Innovation” groups to vet the ideas. It is common for these groups to work in isolation from the rest of the business, and often without clear deliverables and performance metrics.   As a result, the execution of new growth ideas becomes an afterthought.

    I am inviting you to join me next week for a PDMA hosted web event for innovation leaders who are working to integrate Agile Strategies and Lean Start-up Principles into their organizations (or considering doing so.)

    Please follow this link to get more info and register for the two-part webcast on October 6th and 13th to learn how you can EXECUTE your great ideas!


    Irene Spitsberg is founder and managing director at InnoVentures LLC, a strategic innovation consulting company focused on building innovation capabilities and achieving early stage effectiveness. Irene spent 20 years with global leading corporations in various leadership technology and business development roles, where she was responsible for global teams working on the development and commercialization of new offerings in adjacent and new spaces.  She was the key strategist and driver in establishing Innovation Ventures Group at Kennametal and designing its core processes.  Irene’s other roles include Director Global R&D Business with Cristal and a number of technology leadership positions with GE Aviation. Irene hold PhD in Material Science, is the inventor or co-inventor on over 80 US patents, and a published author and frequent speaker on topics of Innovation Management. Contact Irene at

    Released: October 1, 2015, 8:53 am | Updated: October 2, 2015, 7:55 am
    Keywords: PDMA Blog

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