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Unmasking the Innovation Paradox: Why Advanced Technology Organizations Struggle with Innovation

space rocket fails

As I was recently completing an employee-driven accelerator at one of the world's leading technology organizations it was apparent that technology is a major enabler of innovation that can be at the heart of brand-new offerings. It can also be leveraged to improve the value proposition of existing ones significantly.

What was also very clear is that without effective practices of entrepreneurship within established organizations, such opportunities will almost never see the light of day. Here are 3 reasons why organizations that deal in advanced technology aren't necessarily innovative:

1. Not speaking the right language

Experienced entrepreneurs know how to translate a technological breakthrough into a compelling value proposition. Technical personnel working for corporations usually don't have this skill. They gravitate towards technical details since it is their comfort zone. Executives speak a totally different language.

2. People ask for too much upfront

Organizations have spoiled their employees over the years by throwing money at problems. When pitching a venture that lies outside the organization's comfort zone, one cannot ask to "build a new product". Just like startups have to prove themselves to investors before getting more funding so should corporate entrepreneurs build a gradual plan of increased funding for tangible results.

3. Risk/reward ratio is not compelling enough

Creating a risk/reward ratio that is compelling enough to have decision-makers approve the next step and commit to it is another skill that isn't commonplace in corporations. As a result, even if a venture is officially approved it is quickly dropped or simply dies out as challenges arise (and they always do).

As a physics Ph.D. who graduated from one of our Intrapreneurship programs once told me: "Through this experience, I realized that even tech nerds can become entrepreneurs". Technology or any other organizational expertise is only an enabler. Successful corporate innovation requires people who are already experts in their field to acquire this new skill of entrepreneurship.

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