David vs. Goliath Innovation Smackdown

“Small businesses are nimble and bold and can often teach much larger companies a thing or two about innovations that can change entire industries.” - Richard Branson

In an article for Entrepreneur magazine entitled “5 Ways Small Companies Can Out-Innovate Big Corporations,” Steve Sponseller demonstrates how innovation isn’t just for the big guys. In fact, smaller businesses may have the advantage when it comes to innovation.

According to Sponseller, the innovative advantages of small businesses include agility, responsiveness to opportunity, collaboration, alignment, and measurement. The flip side for larger businesses can be organizational sluggishness, less ability to identify and exploit opportunities, silos, lack of alignment (dubbed the “air sandwich” by Nilofer Merchant), and incorrect metrics–that is, measuring innovation according to the wrong criteria.

According to Branson, smaller businesses can defeat the established champions, like the story of David and Goliath. The classic example is the story of Apple vs. IBM, and the development of the Macintosh, including the famous 1984 video, pirate flag, and team autographs molded into the guts of the first Macintosh case.

Innovation isn't just for small businesses. Large businesses can enjoy the same advantages by thinking small, and adopting similar practices, including teams, collaboration, communication, and iteration.

David can beat Goliath, but even Goliath can learn new tricks!

5 Ways Small Companies Can Out-Innovate Big Corporations