Peer Group “Scaling-Up”: Initial Survey Results

This article was co-written with Frank Mattes.

 

As published in a recent post, we have initiated a Peer Group of leading European companies which share our view that Best Practices with respect to scaling up validated concepts (successfully emerging from the “Fuzzy Front End”) to business impact need to be in place to sustainably increase overall corporate innovation performance.

It has become obvious that Scaling-Up really seems to be an issue across a broad variety of industries. In the Peer Group we find companies from

  • Electronics / HealthTech
  • Telecommunications
  • Automotive / Mechatronics
  • Financial Services
  • Cosmetics
  • Oil and Energy
  • Chemicals / Materials

On September 6, a first workshop took place at Swisscom’s Pirates Hub in Zurich. Penny Schiffer, Head of Swisscom Startup Initiatives, and her team hosted a group of 15 senior managers from the joining companies and us.

The goals of this workshop were to find a common language on the issue at hand, identify levers for improvement and assess where the individual companies stand.

We got confirmation that our concept of Areas of Tension (see exhibit 1) is a good starting point for structuring the thinking process. This concept breaks down the inherent conflict between the scale-up venture and the core organization into a set of factors. By doing so, this tension can systematically be mitigated through a defined approach in which the “Venture Management System” is gradually shifted to a “Business Management System” as the venture grows.

Exhibit 1: Our Areas of Tension concept breaks down the inherent conflict between scale-up venture and core organization into particular factors.

 

We asked the participants to assess the relative importance of these Areas of Tension for the Scaling-Up success (see exhibit 2). In the view of the Peer Group, the soft factors are even more critical than the hard factors.

Exhibit 2: Survey results “What are the most significant factors to Scaling-Up success?”

 

This practitioner’s assessment correlates well with various published research findings on success factors for corporate innovation in general. These indicate that getting the soft factors right can be regarded as more fundamental to success in driving radical or disruptive innovations in corporate settings than the hard factors.

In a second survey, we asked the participants to assess their companies’ levels of excellence with respect to handling the Areas of Tension (see exhibit 3).

Exhibit 3: Survey results “How do you assess your company’s excellence in managing the Areas of Tension?”

 

The results show that the companies see their average score across the various Areas of Tension at level 2 on a scale from 0 to 5. Keeping in mind that in this Peer Group are some world-class companies, we think that it becomes apparent that the Scaling-Up is a – if not THE – major issue for increasing innovation impact in established organizations.

The results also clearly reflect the need on the part of the participating companies to tackle the Scaling-Up problem systematically and comprehensively – which has been defined as major ambition of our started Peer Group.

For the time being, we can conclude that the Peer Group’s scope has proven to be on the right track. In the time to come we will be putting the soft, interactional and behavioral aspects of the Scaling-Up transition in the center of our considerations.

More to come soon!

 

Are you an innovation practitioner from a leading European company and interested in joining our Scaling-Up Peer Group? Please get in contact with us (Dr. Ralph-Christian Ohr or Frank Mattes).

About Ralph-Christian Ohr

Experienced innovation management and corporate development professional. Consulting on organizational and personal capabilities for high innovation performance. Integrative thinker. T-shaped.

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2 Responses to Peer Group “Scaling-Up”: Initial Survey Results

  1. Paul Hobcraft October 5, 2017 at 4:49 PM #

    Hi Ralph / Frank,

    Sounds like this “Areas of Tension” makes for some great developing out by you both. One question between Exhibit 2 & 3, relating to Brands. It scores low on relative importance (E2) but size of bubble in votes (E3) has a much larger importance. I realize these were two different surveys but what has changed or what am I missing in reading these two side-by-side. Brands because they are important are better managed (E3) and so less critical (E2) for “scaling up success”

    • Ralph-Christian Ohr October 8, 2017 at 12:56 PM #

      Thanks Paul. Indeed, I think the concept delineates well the challenging “gradient” a new venture has to overcome to succeed in a corporate setting.
      As to the survey questions: the two assessments are not interdependent. So, the results can be read as: “Brand” is not seen as highly critical to Scaling-Up success (E1) and the capability of handling the Area of Tension in this respect is rated as rather high (E2). For E2 please note: The higher the value the higher the self-assessed excellence.

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