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Why You Need Lunatics, Experts, and Connectors on Every Team

Original article here. Secrets of Innovation Teams in Established Companies from Nathan Furr, Co-author, The Innovator’s Method: Bringing the Lean Startup into Your Organization

Great lessons in what works in startups (first paragraph) but how this needs to be modified for large organisations (second paragraph).

The startup world has started to recognize that entrepreneurial teams based on the corporate divisional structure work poorly. Rather than building teams based on representation from each functional area (e.g. sales, marketing, engineering), it has become popular to talk about creating startup teams composed of a hacker, hustler and hipster (the hacker creates rapid prototypes, the hustler engages customer feedback to capture users, and the hipster frames beautiful user interfaces or connects the team to the important teams). Although this team structure works well for startups working with a blank canvas, it ignores the unique challenges faced by companies with established products and services.

Although serendipity plays a role in everything, the team that produced the 336E H hydraulic hybrid excavator had a very purposeful structure that facilitated their success. Rather than hackers, hustlers, and hipsters, the hydraulic hybrid team were composed of what we would call: lunatics, experts, and connectors. The experts provided the foundational understanding of the core technology and also Caterpillar customers. The lunatics questioned the key assumptions and brought new technologies and approaches to the table. And the connectors brought the two groups together, while connecting them to willing customers and supportive leaders. Ultimately, it was the experts and lunatics that developed the hydraulic hybrid, but the connectors and experts commercialized it.


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@intrapreneurtrends < woohooooo love it,…

@intrapreneurtrends < woohooooo love it, you can even @ mention users on this site (as long as they are users that have been created in this site, e.g. I cannot @ mention other users on Here I @ mentioned myself as a test.

You can even use hashtags when you create a post as I have done below (these get created as tags that link posts with the same tag).

In both cases you get auto suggestions of users that are in the system or hashtags already used.


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Publishing in the conversations section of this site

conversation editor

This is what it looks like above but its only visible to users logged into the site. It’s awesomely flexible and super quick – it updates without having to refresh the page. Just like on Facebook for instance. It has some rich text options and you can add easily add images, links and code even.

I love this theme which comes from WordPress and they actually use if for internal collaboration – more here:

More detail on the theme functions here (although I haven’t activated all of the options yet – like ToDo posts which I may do later):


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Kicking off my research with a bunch of articles and references I’ve found so far

This is a list of initial articles, research, examples and sites (covering various initiatives) that I have gathered as potential sources for the book. If you have any not covered here (ideally examples from within your organisation), please add them in a comment and I’ll then add them to the list. I’m now writing short blog posts with links to further potential sources and tagging them – find them all here.

  1. 10 ways to startup-ify your company the right way
  2. The startup inside (a post I wrote on LinkedIn)
  3. 5 Large Corporations Helping Entrepreneurs
  4. The Rise of the Intrapreneur
  5. The Bridge by Coca-Cola
  6. Peer Insight
  7. The Rise Of The Intrapreneurs
  8. The Intrapreneur’s Playbook
  9. To Change A Company, You Need Intrapreneurs
  10. Why We Need Intrapreneurs Now More Than Ever
  11. League of Intrapreneurs
  12. Teaming up: Why partnering with startups is the way forward for brands and agencies
  13. Disrupters disrupted
  14. The Unilever Foundry
  15. Why Big Corporations Suddenly Care About Small Companies and What You Should Do About It
  16. Bill Gross: The single biggest reason why startups succeed  (video)
  17. To Grow a Digital Business, Learn from the Startup Community
  18. The Lean Startup
  19. The Entrepreneur Inside (Ernst and Young initiative)
  20. Big Companies Can Avoid Disruption by Partnering With Startup Accelerators
  21. The C-Suite Needs a Chief Entrepreneur
  22. Using Corporate Incubators and Accelerators To Drive Disruptive Innovation
  23. Disney’s Startup Accelerator Enters Its Sophomore Year With A New Batch Of Companies
  24. Lean Innovation Management — Making Corporate Innovation Work
  25. Exponential Organizations Are The Future Of Global Business And Innovation
  26. 9 tips for how big companies can compete with startups (hint: Innovate or die)
  27. Startups … inside giant companies – Fortune
  28. Innovating at Scale: The Companies That Don’t Let Size Slow Them Down
  29. Why Corporate Entrepreneurs Are Extraordinary — The Rebel Alliance
  30. Startups are about to eat your business – here’s what to do about it
  31. Altimeter: Leading Brands See ‘Innovation Centers’ As Key To Digital Success
  32. Beyond the Buzz Words: Corporate Innovation
  33. Innovate Like a Startup: Distributed R&D for Competitive Advantage – Disruptor’s Handbook
  34. Hacking a Corporate Culture: Stories, Heroes and Rituals in Startups and Companies
  35. Innovation @ 50x in Companies and Government Agencies
  36. Accelerate Innovation from Start-up to Scale
  37. Good examples of banks working closely with startups (Barclays and Nationwide in the UK and Santander). Here is an article from the FT (I had to copy as pdf since its behind a paywall) and a public report from Santander on Fintech 2.0 (also as pdf.). Then here is an article from a newspaper I couldn’t find online about Nationwide’s innovation lab and finally also one more general article on “Will the big banks be engulfed by the new wave in London“.