Big older companies can't match smaller new ones that invest in small unprofitable projects with large unproven potential. The biggies want major provable prospects, which means missing the buses (or the businesses) of the future. The answer?
Think like a venture capitalist. Encourage a flood of ideas (5,000 a year is a venture capital norm). Forget business plans and internal rates of return as you pick the promising few. Ask only if they can multiply investment 10 times in five years. Such superwinners will finance many losers. Too much to ask? According to guru Gary Hamel, the exploration and production side of Royal Dutch/Shell backed 12 new ideas, chosen from among 240, with a dollars 20-million freewheeling fund. Did it work? Four of Shell's five largest growth initiatives last year sprang from this 'GameChanger' programme.