Your organization built a Corporate Innovation Group, maybe even a Bay Area Outpost. It was given relative autonomy and was outfitted as a shiny new lab space. It was the envy of clients and employees alike, and it signaled a better future. Why is it stalling? Why are others around it turning off their lights? How might you sew together what threads of momentum there are and evolve into a scaling lab where you could reach meaningful milestones without triggering the core business antibodies?

We’ve worked with CIGs for 14 years now and have seen what works and what doesn’t.

At Peer Insight, we’ve spent over a decade working with corporate innovation teams across a range of industries. As we’ve partnered with them to identify new opportunities, form concepts, and test via in-market experiments, we’ve had a first-hand look into the inner workings and evolution of Corporate Innovation Groups (CIGs). As the innovation landscape evolves, we seek to understand and share how innovation teams can succeed amidst threats from all sides - external competitors, startups, and internal business units.

 

Three years ago we stopped to document what we'd learned.

From 2015-2016, we set out to pinpoint the causes and possible solutions to a challenge that we saw many CIGs face: how can promising new concepts successfully transition to the core business to be scaled up? Through an extensive series of panel discussions and in-depth, one-to-one interviews, we engaged more than two dozen practitioners over a ten-month period. 10 key findings emerged. In short, we learned that everyone we spoke with had experienced significant failures, and all had struggled mightily with the transition to scale-up. But, there are ways to avoid these possible failure modes and form a more reslient innovation system. And, despite failures and struggles, more firms than ever were investing in innovation labs based on human-centered design and lean startup principles.

 

But new problems are arising, and some CIGs are being spun down. We want to want to know where things went wrong for these groups, and why. 

When conducting our initial research, we were seeing many organizations still launching new groups and outfitting shiny new lab spaces. Now, we’re hearing directly and indirectly that many are faltering. In light of this, a host of new questions have surfaced for us. We are launching a listening tour with leaders of CIGs, where we’ll bring new voices to the conversation to understand how they’re thinking about risk, business model innovation, and accelerating their ventures into the market without triggering corporate antibodies.

 

Although a number of units have closed their doors in recent years, we believe there's still a case to be made for the role of these groups in business innovation.

We believe that many CIGs are simply carrying far too much risk given the complexity of their mandate and their situation relative to the rest of the organization. Furthermore, we’ve seen many organizations struggle to search and find new business models that will support disruptive innovation.

 

To learn, we’re going on a Listening Tour, and we’d like you to join us!

So what do we mean by a Listening Tour exactly?

We’ll be spending the next several weeks meeting and talking 1:1 with CIG leaders about their experiences and advice they have for others who are trying to establish innovation groups within a large organization. We’ll ask them to help us validate or invalidate our assumptions, and answer questions such as:

  • What can be done to move strategic risk factors (sponsorship, space, metrics, etc.) and project risk factors (technical and economic risk) to optimal levels?

  • How are organizations successfully identifying, testing and scaling new business models?

  • What decision-making structures are helping/hurting CIGs?

  • How can organizations assess the best CIG model for their business (e.g. outpost vs. incubator vs. accelerator)? Is there such thing as a straightforward, plug-and-play model that companies can stand up quickly?

  • What important mindsets do CIGs still need to embrace?

 

At Peer Insight we practice radical transparency, so we’ll share out what we’re hearing as we go and invite you to offer up additional questions or areas to probe based on your own experiences. Based on what we’re learning from our 1:1 conversations and hearing from you, we’ll rapidly iterate our approach to each new conversation so that we maximize what we learn through this effort.  

We’ll be sitting down with folks in D.C. and San Francisco, and jumping on calls with others around the world.

 

You can join in a number of ways. Follow along, ask questions, or offer your point of view.

If you have experience working within or partnering with a CIG, we’d love to set up time to talk with you!

If you’re looking to learn from others, you can follow along, ask questions and get access to...

  • Exclusive interviews with corporate innovation practitioners across industries

  • Reflections from the Peer Insight Ventures team on interviews and our experience working with CIGs

  • Opportunities to engage with corporate innovation practitioners and peers in the Listening Tour community