A Foot In Two Worlds
Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus and renowned Startup investor, once said that design is:
Where you stand with a foot in two worlds — the world of technology and the world of people and human purposes — and you try to bring the two together.
The concept of a foot in two worlds is one that resonates in my life. Afterall, I often find myself standing in two different worlds — the world of Startups and the world of Blue Chip companies. In some cases, those worlds are competing against each other as the Startups look to disrupt the incumbent companies. In other times, those worlds are collaborative where the BigCo and the NewCo are actually partners in a shared goal. But in all of these situations, I find myself playing the role of translator between two different business cultures.
This collaboration was top of mind as I read about a new book by David Butler, Coca-Cola’s Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Butler wrote Design to Grow to examine how companies can combine the advantages of a large-scale company with the agility of a nimble startup. One particular interesting piece is the notion of BigCo’s and NewCo’s working together:
I think we have only begun to see what can happen when startups and big companies, especially multinationals, mash up to create new types of ventures. I’m not talking about big companies funding or mentoring startups. I mean when both startups and big companies understand what each brings to the table and actually codesign, building new things that couldn’t happen any other way.
Often times when people talk about Startups and Big Brands, the discussion trends towards the financial — whether it be an acquisition, an investment or at minimum the BigCo buying a service from the startup. But this codesign is an unique view point by Butler with lots of potential. It will be interesting to see if more of the Fortune 500 takes the lead of Coca-Cola to explore the concept further.