How many companies have/need a “what if” business unit? Most existing business units focus on operations and thereby execute and optimize an existing business model. But who looks out for the new stuff or the stuff that falls in between silos? Whether or not your company has a formalized structure, the truth is that someone, somewhere is the “what if” person and you can only hope they are good at.
When the day comes to formalize, what I’ll refer to as the Discovery Unit, then existing corporate rules will no longer apply. For example, short term financials are out because the performance horizon for a Discover Unit is long term development. Predictable year over year incremental growth fused with cost reductions is also a thing of the past. A Discovery Unit is not a little edgier version of an existing business unit. It is a drastic change from the norm and it will cause contention among the ranks, thus for it to be successful it will require the highest level of executive support. If you interested in a great example, take a look at P&G’s Future Works unit, it may be an eye opener.