I had a coffee with Harry, a young airline executive, quite recently, .
"I'm going to apply for a job with our new low-cost subsidiary," he told me.
"Oh, why's that, Harry, I thought things were going great here for you?"
"So I can do innovation," he said.
"But why can't you do innovation where you are now?"
"Because it's not a low-cost start-up."
I was a little puzzled by that. But then it started making sense ...
There are tons of role models for game-changing low-cost carriers - from Air Asia, to Ryanair, to Southwest, but very few for legacy carriers. (Even though legacy carriers probably need even more creative thinking applied now.)
Because it's been shown to be done before, there is implicit "permission" that comes with the territory. Once one company has done it, everybody wants to be first to be second.
So over time, creativity has come to belong more in the low-cost space than the legacy space. Thereby accelerating the decline and demise of the legacy carriers.
Here's the thing, though:
As an intrapreneur in a big company, NO ONE IS GOING TO GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO INNOVATE.
Yes, they want the end-results of your brilliance, but no one above you is to going to sign off on anything until they know it's a proven winner. That's the Intrapreneur's Conundrum.
No one at Sony gave Ken Kutaragi permission to develop the Playstation. In fact his manager threatened to fire him, until the CEO stepped in and sensed the potential for them to grab 65% of the the gaming market.
No one at Microsoft gave the 4 guys who developed the X-Box permission. In fact it was nicknamed as the CoffinBox by their nervous colleagues until Bill Gates gave it his blessing.
No one at the US Air Force gave John Boyd permission to develop the F-16 fighter plane, until a change in government got rid of all the fat and useless generals above him, and it became the most successful fighter plane for the next 40 years.
Your challenge is to iterate your idea, grow your movement, until everyone wants to be a part of that perceived win. (And of course they'll all claim to have been in the room when you had the idea and always knew it was going to be a winner when it succeeds. Sigh!)
So, what are you going to do today to create value without permission?