1/7/14

Norah's Notebook: Why Innovation does not belong in Corporate America

Since leaving the corporate grind last year (haha! I can say that now!) and restarting my Software Development firm, tekAura, I have come across many articles in the start-up community that keep on selling our secrets upstream.  The only saving grace is that I don't believe the corporate goons are capable of comprehending the underlying message. Anyone that has been a part of a corporate innovation initiative or two, or three hundred... you know what I mean!  It takes a unique kind of person to recognize the fallacy in these efforts.  After all the paper prizes and shiny internal disposable marketing packages, some of start wonder.... where is the change they keep talking about?  And one day, you stop, take a moment to look around and find yourself in a sea of drones, a sea of vacant button pushers.  Then you realize why everyone thinks you are nuts!  You make them look bad, you make them work harder.  Those people don't want to help, they don't believe they matter.  Why?  Because you have proven to them time and again they are worth less than the dirt from the smoking corner out in the parking lot.  So, no wonder you can't innovate.  You don't listen, you don't include, you don't care.  Whether because passion and drive is beaten out of you over the first 5 years of dedicated service or because you have given in to the executive bottom line requirements, management continues to struggle to translate your hidden agenda in actionable results on the cutting floor.  For this and many other reasons I will likely detail for the rest of my life, I was inspired to write the following comment on an article titled, Stop Stifling Entrepreneurs in Your Company:

Corporate environments have never and will never be truly interested in innovation.  While some, like Google and Pixar may carry the intention forward, there will always come a point, due to it's sheer mass, when the demands of production quantity exceeds quality.  If left to their own devices, Executives are much more interested in acquiring Entrepreneurship capital after most of the Research & Development activities have been completed, which is the most expensive part of any project.  They would much rather purchase a product during its maintenance phase and ride it until it retires, maintaining warranty contracts and neatly billable work hours.  Entrepreneurship is innately risky, most do not have the guts for it.  Even those of us that do are constantly seeking a formula for ensuring success.  It is this unique individual, this brave soul, who should and does rightly serve society well by being ahead of the curve and willing to release a project at its peak potential.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it...   More and more Entrepreneurs are leaving the Corporate facade for rough waters and choosing not to create a rapid business development portfolio that only adds superfluous layers to the start-up soup, but rather, build a small B2B firm.  These creative houses incorporate social responsibility into every project and drive true innovation within the economy.  The most sustainable ones stay small and flexible.