Entrepreneurs in residence

Many organisations say they want to innovate, but it’s difficult for large companies to seize new market opportunities and launch businesses with the agility and stamina required for real innovation, especially when the status quo has worked for so long. In the face of disruption and changing technology, this client, a market-leading firm, wanted to create useful new products and services and enter new markets, and it asked Knowledge Society to create and help execute its innovation strategy.

Knowledge Society worked with the client’s head of innovation, board and executive to develop the right strategy for the organisation. The client needed a fit-for-purpose approach to innovation that responded to its market context and current businesses, which would allow it to build its internal capability while developing new opportunities. We helped the client understand its customers – as individuals, using ethnography, and as markets, using demography – and search for and define new business opportunities in adjacent domains and emerging markets, focusing our efforts where it made the most sense.

Our role was to identify and seed new businesses and business models that would become significant revenue-generating entities. For eighteen months, the Knowledge Society team was at the beating heart of this organisation’s innovation activity, working with staff from all levels of the organisation to design new products and services based on deep customer needs, scenario planning and market analysis. With the client’s main business under threat from disruption, the time was right to invest in search and discovery.

The initiative, led by Knowledge Society on behalf of the client, was built with permissions and expectations and the speed, collaborative approach and culture that would support innovation. Knowledge Society developed new and agile tools and processes that gave the team scope to test its ideas and, if they failed, to improve them quickly or abandon the idea. Successful projects became integrated with the core business.

This undertaking did not come without its challenges. Knowledge Society helped the client make the difficult case for innovation to the wider organisation and its leaders and navigate the ‘innovator’s dilemma’. We developed a robust innovation portfolio that was realistic in terms of the client’s context, current capabilities and innovation timeline – and we focused on creating serious, revenue-generating businesses while avoiding the innovation ‘theatrics’ that are all too common in this space.

Knowledge Society developed robust business cases for the client in suitable adjacent domains, including aged care, retirement services, financial services, property and consumer services. Our team developed and tested multiple businesses and launched three new businesses to market, including hiring start-up teams and testing the viability and feasibility of these propositions from all angles.

This approach proved to the client that in-house entrepreneurship can be done. Knowledge Society helped the client integrate this innovation capability into its core business – including creating an innovation toolkit – and successfully established a new approach to innovation at the organisation.

To learn more about this project and how to work with Knowledge Society, get in touch.