Don’t hire a skilled entrepreneur … if your firm’s tolerance for change is fragile

Some large firms try to boost product innovation by hiring an entrepreneur.

The new hire can build a good radical innovation team. But, in my eyes unless the CEO supports political, backroom change of the firm, the product idea fails. The entrepreneur quits the firm … and, goes to a firm where commitment is genuine.

As a product development strategist, I’ve often seen this useless outcome. Yet, there is a good tool to improve results of backroom politicsan unbiased study of how the innovation will benefit each naysayers’ personal goals.

Four of my client studies helped start a risky project’s success. Eight client studies of risky projects fell victim to naysayers’ fondness for short-term revenue growth.

Case example

The Case of the Miscast Product Development Strategist

Kirk, a serial entrepreneur, joined a specialty goods/services firm. His challenges? 1. Turn strategy chaos into predictable performance. 2. Begin a radical innovation development that would grow sustainable income.

Money was not the reason Kirk joined the firm.
Three companies he started created great wealth. He joined for the opportunity to use his strategy skills in a large enterprise.

The firm is a manufacturer of point-of-sales equipment (POSe) used in grocery stores. Its cash flow was negative. Its product development strategy was Me2.

Kirk hired me to help his team move into a radical innovation strategy, based on up-to-date knowledge from customers. I made and analyzed 41 interviews with knowledgeable individuals in the grocery industry.

My analysis exposed a strong pattern. Grocers wanted next-gen POSe that would speed checkout and reduce theft through facial and image recognition.

Individuals I interviewed said Amazon and Kroger were testing next-gen POSe. If successful, grocers will replace current POSe.

Kirk’s actions after delivery of my report were to …

  1. Stop the team’s Me2 concepts by focusing them on rapid response to clean up glitches in their current POSe. Cash flow turned positive.
  2. He met with Amazon and discussed collaboration in developing their next-gen POSe.

One year later

  • Kirk’s Board
    Praised his turnaround to positive cash flow. 

Stopped any collaboration with Amazon … too risky for the Board

  • Kirk left the firm and returned to the world of entrepreneurs. There he enjoys the fun of creating value.

Three years later

  • This January, Kroger began to use KroGO carts for next-gen POSe.
  • Last December, Amazon’s Fresh stores began to use its next-gen POSe, DashCarts.