When Monty Don spoke with naturalist Ellie Harrison at the Chelsea Flower Show, he asked: “What’s the easiest way for a gardener to attract wildlife to their garden?” Ellie responded: “First thing to remember, is that by looking after the invertebrates - the creepy crawlies, these will feed animals further up the food chain. So if you’re after badgers or particular types of bird, remember you have to start with the invertebrates – get that right, and it all goes well.”
Ellie’s message that taking care of small insects in your garden attracts bigger animals made me think how companies nurture small and big ideas.
9 out of 10 of the CEOs interviewed in a recent report published by KPMG see disruption as an opportunity, and 96% say their business is aiming to be the disruptor in their sector.
But, I wonder if companies are thinking about big ideas in the right way?
Having worked for twenty-five years in innovation across a vast range of industries, I can tell you first-hand, the companies that encourage small innovative ideas are the ones that attract big breakthrough ideas.
Small ideas are not insignificant. They shape the conditions for an innovative culture to thrive and help organise the structures and processes for growth to occur. By creating the right conditions for small ideas to grow, companies increase the likelihood of attracting big ideas.
Some established businesses will disagree, saying that small ideas are not going to save them from the threat of disruption, and without a game-changing strategy or a new business model, their business will shrink or disappear altogether. I agree, there are times when you need all hands on deck protecting your business. However, those companies facing disruption would be wise to acknowledge the real issue stems from an ‘internal’ problem in how they manage innovation and growth. Don’t make the same mistake twice - nurture an innovative culture where small and big ideas thrive. Both types are needed. Get that right, and it all goes well!
Does your organisation have enough creepy crawly size ideas?
By the way, gardening is a real passion of mine. When I was young, I worked the summer holidays in a horticultural nursery in Dublin, and was probably the only child in Ireland to get a soil testing kit for their 11th birthday! I nearly went on to study agricultural science at university but switched to engineering at the last moment. Gardening provides some great analogies for management practices.
Director of 3inno