Capitalising on your Zombie Innovations


Today more and more organisations are developing Innovation Centers, albeit at a variety of different scales, and while it can be easily argued that innovation should be naturally embedded in the culture of every organisation and permeate through every department – especially those departments with customer facing roles it’s still surprising to find that not all organisations harness the natural creativity of their own work forces or partner ecosystems to bring about innovative advances that improve their top and bottom line revenues and shareholder returns.

Of all the ideas submitted it is a well-known fact though that only a small percentage will eventually make their way through the Innovation Funnel to become marketable products and services and while many ideas never get past the starting blocks there are still myriads of stronger ideas that fall out in the latter stages because they don’t fit or align with the objectives of the organisations core business. Larger organisations either try to spin these ideas off as separate divisions or businesses, with varying levels of success, or, as is more often the case shelve or abandon them. Culturally shelving ideas can often do an organisation more harm than good and not only does the business miss out on potential new sources of incremental revenue but the process of continually shelving strong ideas, if not managed carefully, can lead to a gradual erosion of morale and begin to reduce the teams creative passion, all of which, over time, will erode the organisation’s returns. Once shelved these ideas are only slightly alive and slightly alive generally means mostly dead. These ideas can therefore be thought of as “Zombie Innovations” and today there are millions of Zombie Innovations out there all gathering dust.

Disrupting banking is a team effort

Some organisations however are bucking the trend and are fighting back against the rise of Zombie Innovations. They are developing platforms that directly connect their Innovation and Finance departments with Venture Capital and Angel Investment firms. This allows them to continue pumping out innovations but then allows them to sell or license the IP for their Zombie Innovations to partners who are better positioned to finance, incubate and take them to market, in some cases jointly, where each organisation owns a percentage stake in the any new enterprise that is created as a result. Not only does this new channel approach reduce the inherent risks associated with innovating ‘en masse’ and turn otherwise business centric Innovation Centers into Innovation Factories but it also brings net new capital quickly into the business and generates new annuity based revenue streams that can be used to offset future Research and Development costs. The approach, however, also has additional unseen cultural benefits because these Innovation Factories are now seen as centers of industry excellence that are starting to attract a new breed of innovators and inventors. More than that though companies can easily broaden the channel scope and allow all of the want-to-be innovators in their workforce to benefit from access to the right internal talent pools and the right external investment opportunities which allows them to give regular employees a shot at winning that elusive big win lottery ticket which could see them become a majority stakeholder in their own agile new start up.


About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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