The recipe for corporate longevity: From the perspective of “managing innovation (I)”
Merck KGaA has 350 years journey and in honour several papers have appeared in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.].
G. Griesar (of Merck) et al have given a fascinating account of Innovation Management which has been testified by the longevity of Merck. “I” undoubtedly plays a major role in corporate survival. However, all “I” by its nature is messy. To reduce entropy these authors have adopted keywords: A – such as ambidexterity, architecture, and ant colonies; B – such as (mental) boxes and biodiversity; C – Curiosity (which plays a major role); D – Darwin, DNA and discontinuity; E – Earthquakes and evolution. These authors have quoted C. Darwin “It is not the strongest of the species nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”. “Those companies who are capable of anticipating, accepting, and implementing regular change are the ones that survive”. There is a reference to Nokia, which became a leader in mobile telephones, had origins as a diverse timber products conglomerate with interests as wide as rubber boots and toilet paper! “I” is comparable to a journey; no man is an island. “I” requires a little more than just a light-bulb moment as an idea flashes above someone’s head. “Seek and ye shall find” – the biblical exhortation. “Technology push” and “need pull” are crucial for “I”.
“I” may involve false starts, recycling between stages, dead ends, jumps out of sequence, and countless others. “I” is a process and not a single event and needs to be managed. A spectrum of increasing novelty may be a part of “I”. Exploration is yet another step with big leaps into new knowledge territory. There is a reference to the upcoming “Big Bang” in the automobile industry.
The authors refer to large organizations composed of human beings often appear to be inflexible and incapable of adaptation. There is a need for innovative organizations to eliminate stifling bureaucracy, unhelpful structures, brick walls that block communication and other factors that stop good ideas to be pursued. We must recognize that only people with passion and great insight follow their ideas and create values.
“I” is about three fundamental themes: recognizing the opportunity; finding resources; and creating values.
“I” relies on new knowledge and curiosity has an important role. Capability is important and DNA should be transmitted to future generations. It is well known that behind nearly every established business there was once an entrepreneur.
There is a coverage on the recent studies on corporate longevity. We should ensure that “I” is an integral part of business strategy, a non-stop cycle of mining, testing, and executing. (There is reference to the work of Govindarajan and Srivastava). (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2018, 57; DOI: 10.1002/ anie.201712514; article is of 15 pages).