In a previous job, I was exposed to a saying “think big, start small and grow fast.” I don’t know who originally coined the phrase so I can’t give the proper credit, but to whomever it was: Thanks! This simple saying has had a long term impact on how I think about innovation. Let’s break this down.
Think Big. This is the dreaming or imagination part (my favorite aspect). Some might think this is strategy, but really it’s more visioning. It’s about identifying current trends, technological disruptions, emerging competitors and the like. Mix all these things together and imagine how you would exist and succeed in such a world. What capabilities will you have? What products or services will you provide? What margins will you enjoy? Don’t limit yourself – THINK BIG! Then, apply a time frame to your vision, be it one year or five years. This is your North Star, your guide, your roadmap.
Start Small. I also like the phrase “you can’t eat an elephant in one bite.” When examining your vision, focus on the skills of your team, the capabilities of the organization and the structure of your processes. Identify where you might have a weakness and kick off bite-sized projects that begin to strengthen you. Be creative and take chances. The size of the projects limit your risk, so go for it! Don’t be afraid to fail. Use these projects not only to move forward, but to also learn from.
Grow Fast. These small experiential projects will provide your organization with the insights and experiences necessary to do larger more impactful projects that help propel your future growth. They will also build your organizational capabilities and skills to scale, allowing you to innovate faster and smarter than your competition.
Think big, start small and grow fast. It’s a simple phrase, but yet a powerful guide to how to think about innovation. What is your vision? What is your first small step?