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Microservices Expo: Article

The Popular Myth of Innovation and Big Companies

Innovation occurs because of leadership and culture

I've read a lot of material lately about innovation.  There are a number of people who characterize big companies as the following:

Bureaucratic
Corrupt
Slow
Boring
Vast wastelands of soul-crushing activity
Focused on status-quo

All of this leads to the inability to innovate.

There are plenty of examples that would support many of these characteristics.  Admittedly, size does make it more challenging to be innovative and agile.  But I would also argue that conventional wisdom is fueled by the size of the target itself.  Having worked at a company of one to a company the size of IBM, my observation is that being small is not the critical determinant for excellence .  I have seen innovation and speed come out of large companies just like small companies.  We shouldn't kid ourselves.  Smart risk-taking people work in big companies too.  Likewise, I have seen small companies paralyzed by a flat-footed CEO who couldn't make up his mind or was in over his head.  I have also seen entrepreneurs spin out of large companies go on to create successful companies of innovation based on something they learned at the large company.   

Large companies can commit to innovation and agility in a dynamic world.  It comes down to leadership and culture, not size.

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More Stories By John Ryan

John is an experienced leader with a strong background of defining and executing company strategies. He is especially skilled in channel management, market analysis, brand marketing and selling technology products and services. He has successfully served in a number of executive positions and has been in management for 20 years. John is currently writing a book on increasing revenue generation. He has been a co-author of a comprehensive marketing methodology for high tech companies and has helped venture capitalists and private equity firms gauge their technology investments. In 2004, John served as Vice President of Marketing for the NA arm of the $6B IT Services division of Siemens, AG. John served on the board of directors at WebTrends, purchased by NetIQ (NTIQ) for $1 billion in 2001. WebTrends was highly successful dominating the web site analysis and reporting space. Prior to WebTrends, John was the Vice President of Marketing for Tivoli Systems. John has worked as a contracted consultant for established companies, start ups and top analyst firms. John can be reached at [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter @buyersteps

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