Why Innovating in Large Organizations Is Challenging

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For large organizations, innovation is essential but becoming increasingly difficult. While some companies, like Amazon, are handling innovation very well, many struggle to apply it consistently without heroic effort. Senior Vice President Digital & Innovation at SGS, Siddi Wouters, shares how SGS, as a large company, can embrace innovation despite its size. 

Once organizations reach a certain size, they need to operate in two different modes, managing opposing forces at the same time. On one side, there is a focus on stability and predictability. The opposite side, however, centers around experimentation, speed and high uncertainty. This situation is complex, requiring a balance between seeking new opportunities and managing existing businesses.

Understanding this helps executives and innovation teams put in place the right investment and management processes, skill sets, and culture needed to explore new ideas fruitfully while still managing current operations.

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The Bi-model Operation

The Bi-model operation

In order for SGS to successfully handle these opposing forces, it must be able to operate in two very different ways, with contrasting levels of uncertainty.

For existing business models, there is relatively high certainty. Therefore, it is possible to make accurate sales forecasts and predictions for growth. These business models can be managed and improved through detailed planning and proper execution.

At the exploration end of the continuum, new value propositions and business models need to be found in an environment with high uncertainty. This requires iterative experimentation at speed, with the ability to change rapidly.

This Brings Us the Following Challenge

How do we explore and optimize our digital innovations while exploiting our existing operations?

An Invitation to You

To start bringing these opposing forces closer together at SGS, I would very much like to hear your insights and ideas.

Siddi Wouters
Senior Vice President Digital & Innovation at SGS
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