Beyond Keeping Afloat: How Established Business Can Get Breakthroughs

Marc J. Epstein

August 20, 2014

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"There is a common myth, told and retold, from the boardrooms of industry-dominating behemoths to the opinion columns and business pages of newspapers and magazines. It's a myth that litters the internet, and strikes fear in the heart of many an established executive. While it may seem like reality to many, this myth is actually more like a distortion of reality, often caused by a kind of inadvertent, self-imposed blindness—a willful, if unintentional, shoe gaze of sorts. The myth goes like this: large, established organizations can't get breakthrough innovations on their own. Breakthrough innovations, it says, are the domain of feisty, scrappy, nimble startups. Companies that once graced headlines as models of homegrown innovation, once they reach a certain point, it seems, often believe themselves incapable of developing the types of innovations that disrupt markets or even create entire new ones—the kinds of innovations that can radically change the outlook of a company, or even the world, when successful. If it is, in fact, a myth, then why does it feel so real to so many? And what can be done to avoid the seemingly inevitable drought of innovation that comes along with building and cementing the apparatus of an established organization?"

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