Why Big Companies Must Think Small

William Buckland, Andrew Hatcher, Julian Birkinshaw

Publisher: McGraw-Hill, 2003, 268 pages

ISBN: 0-07-710379-3

Keywords: Entrepreneurship

Last modified: July 28, 2021, 11:10 p.m.

What do Virgin Atlantic, Heathrow Express, the Ericsson mobile phone, and Egg, the online bank, all have in common?

They are all successful new businesses created within existing companies. New business creation can be the most powerful wealth-creating tool in the modern firm's armoury. When used effectively, it can enable a company to reinvent its core business and extend its strategic assets. But it is difficult to get right. Companies routinely invest heavily in business creation initiatives which subsequently fail to deliver significant organic growth.

Following extensive research across Europe, North America and the Far East, Buckland, Hatcher and Birkinshaw argue that the trick to successful business creation lies in a firm's ability to:

  • intergrate a business creation capability across it's operation
  • combine small-company attributes such as agility and creativity with a risk-tolerant, long-term approach

Inventuring shows why business creation should be at the top of a company's strategic agenda and how to organize and manage it alongside other business development techniques. It demonstrates how to build a business creation capability from scratch and how to embed it within everyday practices so that it becomes routine.

The book provides a step-by-step guide to generating and turning ideas into commercially viable enterprises while avoiding the many pitfalls. It will help you to determine which ideas to run with, how to develop and launch them, and how to extract the best value for corporate growth.

  • Foreword by Pekka Ala-Pietilä
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
    • Chapter 1: Introduction
      • Scope and positioning
      • Themes and organization
      • The structure of the book
  • Section 1: Business Creation and the Firm
    • Chapter 2: The Challenge of growth and Renewal
      • Growth
      • Renewal
      • Strategies for growth and renewal
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 3: Business Creation Today
      • Existing practice
      • Developing a business creation capability
      • Assessing the position
      • Using the business creation audit
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 4: Ad Hoc, Focused and Integrated Business Creation
      • Business creation pathways
      • Interpreting the pathways
      • Plotting the dynamics
      • Conclusion
  • Section 2: Developing a Business Creation Capability
    • Chapter 5: A Business Creation Architecture
      • What makes business creation difficult?
      • The key elements of a business creation system
      • The business creation architecture
      • Costs
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 6: Selecting Ventures
      • How to select
      • Selection criteria
      • The selection and development process
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 7: The Venture Unit
      • Venture unit lifecycle
      • Building the venture unit
      • Operation
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 8: Sense
      • Starting-up
      • Stimulating idea creation
      • Overcoming obstacles to idea generation
      • Handling ideas
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 9: Start
      • Marketing and product work
      • Strategic thinking
      • Getting to the next stage
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 10: Seed
      • Flexibility
      • Team and budget
      • Marketing
      • Product
      • Preparing for set-up
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 11: Set-up
      • Funding and positioning
      • Setting up a subsidiary
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 12: The Corporate Entrepreneur
      • Getting noticed
      • Entrepreneurs inside Ad Hoc firms
      • Conclusion
  • Section 3: Integrated Business Creation
    • Chapter 13: Remaining Focused
      • Cautionary tales
      • Lessons
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 14: Developing an Integrated Approach
      • How far can we take the Focused mode?
      • The Integrated mode in practice
      • Building an Integrated capability
      • Conclusion
    • Afterword
      • The chief executive as architect
      • Peter Davis: serial business creator
      • Persevering with business creation



Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Disappointing *** (3 out of 10)

Last modified: June 7, 2013, 4:59 p.m.

Bad examples, lack of clarity, partly incoherent and no real objective, makes this book not very good. Maybe you can manage to scrape some lessons out of it, but I seriously doubt it. Add to this, very bad writing style as well, and it is really not recommended for anything.


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