Core Tools to Get Started
The Corporate Startup Canvas
THINK THROUGH YOUR IDEAS
The Corporate Startup Canvas is a tool to help corporate entrepreneurs think through innovative ideas and identify where and how they could fit within an organization. It poses fundamental questions that will help a person or team evaluate ideas, communicate essential information about them, and identify strengths and needs. The goal when answering the questions should not just be to find correct right answers with certainty, but to find multiple potential correct answers where there is uncertainty.
You can find more information on this tool, its background, and its usage here.
Pitching Innovation to the C-Suite
Clarify your message before you pitch
One of the most common problems faced by corporate entrepreneurs, especially new ones, is encountering questions and challenges they hadn’t considered. While startup founders all have to wear many hats and perform many job functions, employees of larger companies are more specialized, which can constrain the focus of both a corporate entrepreneur and members of his or her audience. We’ve developed a framework to help you clarify both your message and thinking before pitching your idea.
The reverse side of the canvas contains some background and instructions, and you can read more about it here.
CONSIDER THE COSTS and risks
Applying traditional corporate financial models to internal investment decisions for innovation projects is an inherently flawed exercise. Those models are well-suited for lower-variance outcomes where point estimates are useful decision drivers (think about IRR valuing a series of cash flows or NPV being calculated off the center of a normal distribution). But the speculative nature and potentially outsized returns of truly disruptive new products and services demand a different approach.
By combining the logic of a gated innovation management approach and the mathematical underpinnings of options pricing, the Corporate Startup Lab has developed a valuation tool to help figure out these innovative ideas are really worth. This tool considers not only the potential economic returns of an idea but also the costs and risks of pursuing it. The value of an idea will go up if the startup team can investigate the riskiest parts of the idea earlier and cheaper.
Tools in Progress
We are currently working on finalizing these tools.
Innovation Culture, Collaboration & Coordination Assessment
Quantitative Survey-Based Assessment
No intrapreneurial endeavor succeeds on the efforts of one person. From organizational culture to team-level collaboration to simple person-to-person information sharing, the environment and ways in which employees interact can often be the decisive factor between innovation moving forward or dying as an idea on a whiteboard. Encouraged by promising early results, we’re combining tools from organizational behavior and social network analysis with this research project to develop assessments for how well people in an organization are working together and where small changes could create outsized improvements.
We’re currently looking for opportunities to conduct more detailed studies to augment this development process. If you’re interested in partnering with our team to do a deep dive on your organization and learn more about the culture, collaboration, and coordination in your own groups, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Core Competencies of Intrapreneurial Teams
Understand the skillsets most essential to corporate startup founding teams
From what we’ve seen, successful intrapreneurial endeavors tend to start with great ideas and come to fruition through the successful application of three core skills: learning, building, and communicating. One person can have all three, but like in entrepreneurship, a solid team can improve your chances of success. This framework can help identify what skills are important to develop or recruit to maximize your chances of success.
There are a number of tools that have become increasingly popular among entrepreneurs that also work well for corporate innovation programs.
Business Model Canvas
This is a one page tool used to document and visually summarize the critical assumptions and iterations of an idea as you validate and invalidate key hypotheses of it. You can download the canvas and watch a presentation by the creator of the canvas on what he means by the term “business model.” (Also, see his book for more details on the canvas and techniques.)
Customer Empathy Map
This is a great visual to help prompt and think through the perspective of a key customer persona for your offerings. We encourage building multiple personas for each stakeholder in the value chain (for example, both channel resellers and the end customer). A good overview of the tool from Solutions IQ.