Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Winter 2009

Faculty Bookshelf: Robert C. Wolcott

Entrepreneurship isn't just for entrepreneurs
Grow From Within by Robert C. Wolcott shows established companies how to create 'truly new business' 

By Shannon Sweetnam

  Wan Wongsunwai
Robert Wolcott
  Photo © Evanston Photographic Studios

When Robert C. Wolcott founded the Kellogg Innovation Network (KIN) in 2003, it didn't take him long to find eager participants. 

"Executives kept seeking advice on how to create truly new business, so we put together a session on the topic," says Wolcott, the network's executive director.

Soon after, Motorola, Cargill and Pepsi Co. all offered to collaborate on research on corporate entrepreneurship, or creating new businesses within established companies. Together, Wolcott and senior research associate Michael J. Lippitz began a study of more than 30 companies across industry sectors.

Grow from Within: Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation (McGraw-Hill, 2010), co-authored by Wolcott and Lippitz, is the culmination of this research. The book is a hands-on guide to finding the right approaches to corporate entrepreneurship. It outlines 12 ways that companies innovate and fits them into a useful design tool — the "Innovation Radar," a framework originally developed with Mohan Sawhney, the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation Clinical Professor of Technology, and Inigo Arroniz.

Innovation includes more than just the introduction of new products and services, Wolcott says. It also involves dimensions such as creating new customer experiences, reaching new customer segments, capturing additional revenue, and establishing innovative operating processes and distribution channels. But fitting everything together in a real, new business design is the tricky part.

"Finding the right structures and processes to make this happen inside an established company is the key and the challenge," says Wolcott, a faculty member in the entrepreneurship and innovation program. "You can have two companies with exactly the same product; one can fail miserably and the other can be a smashing success, with the difference being the business launching and supporting the product."

Wolcott and Lippitz discovered that companies use dozens of different approaches to bring new businesses to market, and that the number of possibilities can make it difficult for firms to determine which model is most relevant. Grow from Within simplifies the decision process by outlining the four basic models — opportunist, enabler, advocate and producer — with which companies can successfully build new businesses. The book's mission, according to Wolcott, is to take what is powerful, inspiring and dynamic about entrepreneurship and make it happen within mid- to large-sized organizations. 

"As we emerge from the recession, companies are going to have to be ready with new business opportunities," Wolcott says. "Grow from Within will help anyone involved with driving growth to make better decisions earlier in the innovation process, decisions which lay the foundation for future success."

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