John Klick
Innovation Catalyst, Dare to Try Program


In this keynote excerpt from the 12th Annual New Product Innovation & Development: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange Chronicles, Innovation Strategist John Klick shares insights and specific organizational examples designed to help leaders create an internal culture that fosters fresh, entrepreneurial thinking.

How do established organizations compete with the agility of small start-ups? How do you get everyone in your organization to think and act like entrepreneurs? This session examined the best practices for installing an innovation and experimentation culture to inspire action.

• Techniques for aligning on a common mindset and framework
• Strategies for adopting an “experimenters” mindset
• Framework to use champion networks to expand your reach g Blueprint for partnering with start-ups to get the early advantage

Klick commented on all the great ideas presented at the 12th Annual New Product Innovation & Development: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange. He noted that many participants were probably wondering where to begin in implementing these ideas: “You want to implement them, but how?”

As he observed, “The problem with well-managed companies is that they struggle to innovate because they are well-managed. You could say they manage out all the innovation.” The question then becomes, “How do you overcome the innovation disconnect? What are the hurdles?” The first one is mindset, followed by (often restrictive) existing organizational frameworks. How do you get traditional organizations to think like startups? At Pfizer, they have a Dare to Try Program.

Key components of Pfizer’s Dare to Try Program include:
• Suspending judgment of bad ideas, called green housing
• Suspending the natural “no” reaction when somebody presents them with an idea
• Asking more questions, nurturing ideas, or using a technique to improve the idea
• Including leaders in this process
• Remembering that an open organizational mindset matters even more than tools
• Sharing stories regularly

Another method to changing the mindset and getting people in the company to think like entrepreneurs is to connect externally. Try and get your company’s leaders to go beyond normal patterns of thinking and connect with startups to be more efficient.

1. Align to business problems and priorities
2. Make time for the right startups
3. Venture Capitalists can be valuable

Pfizer’s Champion Network
Pfizer also created a Champion Network. It consists of allies and advocates who sit in the business within their sphere of influence. A key trait of most is that they are excellent facilitators. Some important things to consider for your organization’s possible Champion Network:

• Focus on the innovators, not the innovation
• Give people tools, then get out of their way
• If participants are passionate about what they are doing, they’ll figure it out
• Evaluate and refresh thinking at end of year

It’s difficult for old organizations to shift from their stodgy ways and embrace a loose, entrepreneurial spirit. It can be done, but often involves finding allies and advocates who can operate as go-betweens from the organization to idea generators or start-ups.

Create an atmosphere at your company where ideas are explored, not killed. Ask questions and deepen the dialogue whenever possible. Make sure to include and immerse leaders in the process. Create a dialogue between leadership and the startups – get them invested in the process.