Innovation through the eyes of a child: Rediscovering Corporate Venture Building.

April 30th, 2024

The concept of Corporate Venture Building lies at the core of companies aspiring to lead in competitive and ever-changing markets. This innovation strategy allows corporations to become more agile and flexible, quickly adapting to market changes by combining their key assets and corporate expertise with the dynamism of a startup.

A key element in this process within the corporation is the internal entrepreneur or intrapreneur, who drives a culture of agility and leads the creation of new ventures. These executives are not traditional managers but innovators with a startup mindset, dedicated to transforming disruptive ideas into viable business models and then bringing them to market.

Alongside the team from a company specialized in Corporate Venture Building (such as Byld), the internal entrepreneur develops an ecosystem that fosters experimentation and rapid iteration, allowing the exploration of new markets and the generation of new revenue streams. The resulting products and services are designed to be scalable, significantly contributing to the company’s long-term growth.

Therefore, implementing Corporate Venture Building strategies requires not only sharp business skills but also a profound personal transformation of the intrapreneur. This transformation is akin to the stages of human spirit development described by Friedrich Nietzsche: the camel, the lion, and the child. By integrating Nietzsche’s reflections with Pablo Picasso’s artistic visions, we can explore how the child’s perspective is crucial for navigating uncertainty and fostering innovation within corporate structures.

1. The Camel: The foundation of resilience.

The beginning of the journey in Corporate Venture Building is akin to the camel stage, where the internal entrepreneur takes on the burdens of corporate and market challenges. Like the camel, which can traverse deserts carrying heavy loads, the venture must withstand the pressure of corporate expectations while seeking innovation. This stage is fundamental as it builds the resilience necessary to face upcoming challenges, teaching the entrepreneur the importance of absorbing and learning from their environment before attempting to transform it.

2. The Lion: The necessary rebellion.

The metamorphosis into the lion reflects the critical moment when the internal entrepreneur begins to question and challenge the established norms within the corporation. This phase is at the heart of the struggle for autonomy and independence, where the startup must find its own voice and space to innovate. The figure of the lion, strong and courageous, symbolizes the need to challenge the status quo and advocate for new directions and methodologies, often facing internal resistance to defend the potential of disruptive innovation.

3. The Child: The essence of innovation.

Upon reaching the child stage, the entrepreneur and their project are in a state of pure creativity and exploration. Inspired by Picasso’s yearning, who used to say, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to learn to draw like a child,” and reinforced by the surprising results of the Marshmallow Challenge, where, against all odds, small children often outperform highly educated adults, such as MBA students. The reason behind this phenomenon is children’s willingness to experiment and adapt, as opposed to adults who plan and execute with a more rigid approach. This phase celebrates the importance of an open and experimental mindset. The child’s perspective, free of prejudice and full of curiosity, allows an innovative approach to problems, stimulating creative and disruptive solutions that can elude minds more conditioned by corporate norms and expectations.

4. The importance of the Child's Gaze.

Flexibility, experimentation, and adaptability—characteristics inherent to a child’s mindset—are essential in innovation. Faced with uncertainty and complex challenges, a playful and exploratory attitude leads to superior results compared to the more rigid and linear approaches typical of adults. This ability to address uncertainty with an open mind is crucial in Corporate Venture Building. The child’s perspective not only involves greater attention to detail and openness to surprise but also a willingness to unlearn and rebuild knowledge. In a corporate environment, this translates into the ability to see beyond obvious solutions, explore unexpected paths, and embrace failure as a learning opportunity.

5. Rediscovering the world with wonder: The lesson from Siddhartha.

Herman Hesse, in “Siddhartha,” explores the quest for knowledge and the importance of living with a sense of wonder and curiosity, similar to that of a child. Siddhartha learns to listen and observe the world deeply, appreciating the small details and the beauty around him. This approach, contrary to the linear and objective pursuit of adults, is revealing for the innovation process. It teaches us that, in pursuing specific goals, we can often overlook innovative opportunities and solutions that are “hidden in plain sight,” waiting to be discovered by those willing to see the world from a different perspective.

Conclusion.

The journey of Corporate Venture Building is a complex process of organizational transformation, anchored in the wisdom of accepting the burdens of the environment (the camel), the courage to challenge the status quo (the lion), and, above all, the purity of creativity and innovation (the child). By integrating these stages, corporations can cultivate an environment where passion, experimentation, and a deep appreciation for the discovery process guide the path to transformative innovations. In this environment, Corporate Venture Building becomes an exciting adventure, where the goal is not only commercial success but also the constant rediscovery of what is possible when we view the world through the eyes of a child.

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