Strategies for the Digital Age Part 2 – Corporate Venturing
Published on December 20, 2019
Rohit Talwar – Futurist Speaker
By Rohit Talwar
The leadership challenge for all commercial organisations today is one of delivering continuous growth to their shareholders while trying to navigate an increasingly uncertain future and a world being transformed by dramatic advances in science and technology. There is also an underlying sense that we have to do everything faster – perhaps for fear that the opportunities may not last very long. In response, we are seeing the growing use of two key growth strategies – the quest for exponential growth and the growing use of corporate venturing. I discussed exponential growth in Part 1, and in Part 2 I focus on the learning and development implications of the adoption of corporate venturing.
Corporate venturing and intrapreneuring are seen as ways of buying ourselves faster learning and growth. As organisations wrestle with finding the right path to the future, we can expect a growing focus on the use of corporate venturing, or corporate venture capital. This is basically the investment of funds in external start-up companies. Intrapreneuring tends to be used to refer to investment in new venture ideas generated by internal team members. Typically, these venturing approaches are focused on capital and resource investments in firms and internally generated ideas that could enhance the core business, create enterprises in adjacent sectors, or generate ventures that could potentially disrupt and compete with the existing entity.
This business model may become increasingly popular as firms look to these startups to help speed up knowledge acquisition, learn about emerging technologies, accelerate entry to new markets, or access critical skills and resources. Core to the success of such models are intrapreneurs and venture managers who can help the ventures gain the support they need from the core business without the imposition of unnecessary central processes and controls. Alongside these venture management skills, success requires internal leaders and functional heads to have the ability to collaborate with new ventures which might threaten their existing business.
As the desire is typically to launch these venturing and internal incubator units at speed, a level of pre-emptive skills investment is required to establish the required structures and processes to manage the activities. Fast track approaches to learning here would include meeting with a range of such venture units in different organisations. These study tours can provide deep insight into the technical aspects of running venturing and how they have tackled the issues of securing internal support, ensuring accelerated decision making, and dealing with the conflicts that can arise as parts of the business feel threatened by the new initiatives and investments. Secondments to and from established venturing units and venture capital funds can also help with accelerated knowledge acquisition.
For internally generated initiatives, while the individuals may have great ideas, they may have little or not expertise in turning creativity into innovative new ventures. Hence, a range of programmes and learning experiences will be required to teach people how to structure an idea, turn it into a business proposition, test the concept, structure the business, and manage the process from business creation through to the launch of the first product or service.
The growing importance of both venturing and exponential strategies to the future strategic agenda provides a powerful opportunity for learning and development. The function can anticipate business needs and pro-actively seek out the experiences, training, and resources that could help accelerate the adoption of these strategies.