Has anyone ever read Arie de Gues’ 1997 book The Living Company?

That seminal work coupled with Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma says it all.

Big companies for the most part still don’t get innovation but claim to. After a zillion articles, Ted Talks, books, training and so much more than a few billion blown on programs.

Big company’s see the consequences, read about the consequences, experience them and still don’t get it.

They’ll say it’s not in their purview even when it really is with the excuse being claiming that they’ll just buy their way in, make an acquisition, wait for the tech to mature, the market to take shape and on and on…

History demonstrates that few survive that attitude, but many a career transcends it.

If the descent takes just long enough, I won’t be there. I’ll have moved on. I’ll have retired.

Put those two attitudes together and that’s the big opening for the entrepreneur – for not just the little guy buy for the Tesla’s, the Apples, the Ubers, the Airbnbs…and their founders from Musk to Jobs.

I’ve tried bringing terrific technology over and over to the big guys – technology that’s pretty reduced to practice, does amazing things for the customer and requires an entry and investment that’s literally 0.01% down to 0.001% of their revenue. Like spending a few bucks on lottery tickets but with far better odds. Literally less than a mid level development employee’s rolled up annual salary to confirm as much within a firm’s customer context. Technology that’s a platform for innovating entire multi billion dollar categories. They almost all say nope. Or ask for silly terms, the slow boat incremental approach. It then virtually never leaves the few offices.

Why? It’s risky, we don’t know enough, we need to follow our process, we’re not used to this kind of risk yet, we need to tier this, maybe we already are working on this, we need to take this by baby steps.

It’s sad. It’s actually pathetic. It makes no real sense.

Folks would rather literally spend millions on Lean Startup programs and training hoping for some Shakespearean monkey typewriter effect that almost never happens. Some PC approach where everyone’s an innovator, everyone can do it when that’s just not true. We’re all good at thing and bad at others. Not everyone is an innovator, a Musk, a Jobs or the guy or gal who opened that great restaurant or has that great design.

The real fact? Big firms are blowing their true futures by being afraid. Their leadership is not courageous but also generally not that capable of charting the future either. Rather than accommodate making some simple rounding error on the toilet paper spend bets, they’d rather just keep heading towards the icebergs.

Next, I’ll argue that the biggest innovation thinkers out there are really selling systems to get rich and enjoy a big house. Some have enjoyed and worked hard for great success but often it’s a single success. Suddenly they know it all. They write a book. They go on a tour. The problem? Their approaches have generally not been tested across many industries and circumstances. Many have never started a company or had multiple, persistent real successes – beyond their consulting. They sell methods that don’t have a reality about them and don’t seem to succeed persistently – Stage Gate for example, the ultimate super excuse. Next might be Lean Startup. I’ve said it before – are you into billings or breakthroughs?

Folks, this is all common sense. Get some courage. Have a drink. Do something crazy fun. Get over it. Get over the fear of the little spider. Get a customer excited. Spend a dollar. Leaders? Try being a leader versus a spider killer. It’s what real careers, real impact derives from. Live a mundane life…or live a life worth remembering, a life that changes lives for the better for the world, your colleagues, your firm.

If your big firm can’t handle it? Then just walk out. Make a change. Do something.

You only live once. If you aspire to do great things, they will not happen if you don’t try. Doing nothing – that’s a decision. It’s only a little spider. It’s only a few dollars.

So just one question…

What’s your decision?

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