Preface: Reprogramming Your Corporate Immune System
A number of automotive managers attended the recent SingularityU Summit in Berlin. They face serious disruptive changes. As Volkswagen CIO Martin Hofmann put it: “As soon as the customer no longer touches the steering wheel, the emotional bond to his car gets lost and we enter a completely different game”. Later, one of the managers present asked Salim Ismail, author of the book “Exponential Organizations”, how a big corporation can manage disruptive innovation from the inside. Ismail’s answer was disillusioning. Better you move it to the fringes of your company and run it in absolute stealth mode, he recommended, otherwise the “corporate immune system” will strike back and devour both, the innovation and the innovators.
Quite a dire outlook. These are the billion Dollar questions indeed: How can a big incumbent corporation manage disruption? How can it re‐invent its own business model from the inside instead of falling victim to disruption from outside entrepreneurs? Can it after all or are the odds so much in favor of start‐ups or spin‐offs that the best it can do is deferring demise by incremental improvement?