I love many things about my job.
I also hate one thing.
Let me explain.
First – let’s begin with the love.
I love working with our corporate innovation and strategy clients. I used to manage the innovation fund at American Express so this is a world I know well, and I feel a certain kinship with these clients. I know the struggles and also how fun these efforts can be.
I also love that many folks from strategy, innovation and research groups are fans of CB Insights and our research briefs and our newsletter. I love that our data helps you make sense of emerging tech or startups or your competitors. And that all the information, data and trends we share might have an impact.
Which brings me to what I hate.
I was talking to a prospective corporate client who said they’ve been talking with their senior management on the topic of innovation for 2 years and they commented that our research has been really useful in that effort.
And all I could say was “2 years and you’re still just just talking?”
This part I find frustrating. I don’t want you to just read our research or download our data and do pivot tables with it or share it internally in pretty Powerpoint decks.
That’s missing the F’n point
Yes, I want our research to show you that technology is changing your industry or that your competitors are actually doing stuff. But then you’ve actually got to do something. Yes – we can tell you that Nordstrom, Target, Salesforce, Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Google, Amazon, Citibank, GM and a host of corporations are making interesting moves to stay one step ahead.
But that’s them – not you.
We can highlight what your competitors are doing in your industry.
We can show you who is unbundling you and how the threats are multiplying. (look at the cost of launching a startup below)
We can show you that your time on top is going to come to an end.
And if you must, you can put this stuff into a deck to “syndicate it internally” or “fly it up the flagpole”, but at some point, you need to do something. You have to put money behind something and take a risk and potentially fail (or wildly succeed).
You have to build products, invest in startups, acquire startups, partner with startups, etc. You have to try and build great products or businesses which might be a bit out there from your core. And you need to test them and learn from them about what is going well and what is not going well.
That is the only way.
Stop doing other nonsense.
- Visiting Silicon Valley once to meet VCs and doing the Valley Petting Zoo tour is not the way to do it.
- Listening to all our webinars or reading all our research briefs is not the way to do it.
- Whiteboarding and setting up cross-functional teams is not the way to do it.
- Creating elaborate market sizing Powerpoint decks is not the way to do it.
- Hiring someone to run your venture or innovation groups for you is not the way to do it.
- Here’s a full list of other innovation theater tactics that are not the way to do it.
Knowing is different than doing.
I want you to take action and actually start doing. I see too many corporations who think that knowing is enough. That they’ll Powerpoint their way to glory. Or they look at startups cynically and think of all the reasons they will fail. Yes – most startups fail. It’s intellectually lazy to say that.
Let’s look back at 1999-2000. Here is a bunch of eCommerce startups that bombed. I was lucky enough to work at one of them – Kozmo.com. If you were a CPG or physical retailer, you could look at these companies and say “ha ha – they’re so stupid. That’ll never work.”
And if you did that, you’d be on the wrong side of history as Amazon and eBay came out of that mess.
Don’t share this post or tweet it or anything. Just start doing some shit.
For the many clients who’ve told me that CB Insights has helped them think about a new market or find an investment or M&A opportunity, I love you. Thanks. You make work fun.
Yoda header image source