Discussion with Marc Giget, Chairman and founder of the Club de Paris des Directeurs de l’Innovation (Innovation Leaders Club of Paris)
In a rapidly-changing world, big companies have suffered from the stereotype of being large, inflexible “dinosaurs”. However, since 2012, global companies have been catching up and are now at the forefront of innovation.
Today in France, people are still under the impression that start-ups are the drivers of innovation while large companies are out of touch with the trends because they are bigger, less agile and are too late when realising the revolutions that are already well-underway. This is clearly a “start-up myth”. It seems as though there are thousands of them, when in reality, it’s only a handful. We imagine that they are creating the most jobs when the actual amount of jobs between all of them combined doesn’t add up to the yearly recruitments of just one company listed on the CAC 40.
It is a completely different reality, and our American neighbours have understood this for a while. Large and middle-market companies are now getting even in terms of innovation. They weren’t quick enough and they have learned from it; they are taking back the initiative. They have already begun implementing their strategy for agility and have started to see the results: flexibility, speed and responsibility combined with their premium quality and operational and industrial excellence. Trend analysts, namely in the financial sector, estimate that in the coming decade large companies will be the innovative leaders.
How are these groups, who are known for being cumbersome and inflexible, able to start over? First, they have the means to buy out their smaller, highly-innovative competitors. For example, Microsoft’s buyout of LinkedIn, BPCE’s buyout of Fidor and Randstadt’s buyout of Monster are all recent illustrations of the strategy of gaining innovation through acquisitions. Additionally, large companies have adopted the business techniques of start-ups, just like Current, a start-up “powered by” GE, one of the leading American companies in energy and transportation.
They have also learned to revolutionise their culture. They have identified the key elements needed for innovation: shared creation, acceptance of failures, cooperation on all levels, and the time and resources dedicated towards innovation. A large part of these elements for success comes from the employees, which highlights the important role their commitment plays as well as the role that Human Resources has in mobilising employees.
Undoubtedly, in large companies as in start-ups, the battle for innovation plays out primarily on cultural and individual levels, focusing not only on values such as speed and excellence, but also openness and pleasure.