Established companies value stable processes and predictable business models. Although optimizing operations for continuity brings many benefits, digital transformation requires experimenting and investing in innovation and change. Organizations may struggle with innovations that disrupt existing ways of doing business. 

Jonathan Becher, Chief Digital Officer of SAP, discusses this issue and offers practical solutions to the problem of corporate antibodies that interfere with innovation.

Managing Anti-innovation Antibodies

When Chief Digital Officers get together they often talk about how to handle corporate antibodies, those things that seemingly resist change and disrupt within a company. When you think about it logically, it makes sense just like the human body works as well.

If a foreign agent is introduced into our bodies, the antibodies come and protect us from that change. The same thing happens in large companies as well. When something seems to disrupt the current business model, the traditionalist will say “Hmm, that jeopardizes our revenue. We should maybe keep it from growing”.

So the way to do it is to actually embrace those that may think this jeopardizes the future and say, “How do we design this for scale. How do we make this so that it’s not so much about innovation, the definition of something new, but scale, the definition of how to make it part of the core.’

If you switch the mental frame from innovation to scale, you’re much more likely to be successful.