Steve Blank on Maintaining a Culture of Innovation, Part II

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OV: You met with a Congressional subcommittee in July to talk about the importance of innovation, and you’re planning to brief it further on the importance of continuous innovation. Why do you think continuous innovation is so critical to the future of business and entrepreneurship?

steveblankSB: For the 80 years, our country has invested in basic and applied research on scale no others have approached – this year our National Research organizations (NIH, NSF, NASA, etc will spend ~$150 billion). Our research Universities spend $55 billion a year on basic and applied research. And Venture Capitalists invest some $30 billion a year in startups.  To survive going forward, companies are going to need to be organized around continuous innovation to take advantage of all the innovation going on outside their companies as well internally.

Unfortunately, the way that most big corporations are structured fundamentally goes against the core tenants of continuous innovation.

Simply put, big, publicly traded companies (and their investors) don’t have the stomach for rapid experimentation, chaos, and opportunity exploration.

Sustainable companies are the ones that continuously execute and innovate. They don’t give into the “quarterly shooting star” concept. They consistently invest in things that drive innovation, even if it means that their short-term profits won’t look as pretty. That’s how companies last longer.

We’re at the forefront of the democratization of entrepreneurship. You no longer need to make a pilgrimage to Palo Alto or Silicon Valley to be successful in the high tech world. It’s an incredibly exciting time.

If we can teach the new crop of entrepreneurs the importance of continuous innovation even as a company scales, we’ll stand a far greater chance of creating another century of powerful disruption.

Do you have questions for Steve? What challenges and solutions have you discovered during your company’s transition from the startup stage?