CEOs and their exec staff should start with a high-level discussion to decide whether their companies should even establish an Innovation Outpost, whether in Silicon Valley or some other innovation ecosystem. Because this is a critical decision that requires broad management buy-in, the conversation should include senior management, particularly the Chief Digital Officer, the Chief Strategy Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, and the Head of R&D, and maybe even their board of directors. This group needs to carefully consider six key questions:
- Do we believe “startup-driven” innovation (innovation that comes from relationships with external, early-stage companies) should be part of the corporate innovation portfolio?
- What is the timeline to ROI and the amount of risk we are willing to assume? Will an Innovation Outpost provide results at the speed we need?
- What would be the charter for our Innovation Outpost?
- How quickly can we get out of the building to explore and validate the ecosystem?
- What is our company’s strategy for successfully integrating an Innovation Outpost?
- How do we establish the Innovation Outpost and staff the innovation enabling group(s) which will be part of the first phase of the Outpost?