Anthony Catanese and his team at Ignite, Adecco’s innovation lab are helping the world’s largest HR and consultant firm innovate like a startup. We recently sat down for a conversation with him to understand why Ignite was formed, places he looked for inspiration when starting and what he thinks an entrepreneurial approach to innovation can enable in large businesses. Here are his thoughts:
What is Ignite and why did Adecco decide to launch it?
Ignite was born out of the sudden realization that companies that aren’t innovating are dying. We were started in the summer of 2012 just after some little companies IPO’d and became real players in the market.
Where did you look for inspiration when you were building Ignite and what were you able to re-apply?
We started off looking everywhere, which was an intense process that became a job within itself. First we analyzed the process that colleges were using at their idea incubators. Stanford was a huge jumping off point. This quickly lead us down the road of following the startup culture, which was becoming popular at the time. Our goal was to try and understand how movers and shakers, move and shake. Then the LEAN Startup series gave us some great insights, but the number one piece of advice I wish I could give my past self would be to just “do something” and set up a criteria for whether it was a success or not. Just apply the scientific method to business.
What do you think are the benefits of bringing more of an entrepreneurial approach into large businesses?
There are quite a few, but three very specific ones have stuck with me.
Engagement. When you ask a team to create something themselves there is nothing more freeing and engaging than trying to solve that problem.
Community. People who love to start things are often drawn together and find solace in being around people who like to get dirty.
Value. Often when you’re part of a large machine people have a tendency to forget about the value they are bringing to the company. When a small team is asked to accomplish something with true goals with an understanding of impact, it drives value for the company, but even more for the individual.
What do you do to keep yourself inspired?
I constantly read, share small wins, and stay connected with people who get things done. Just over a year ago I started a meetup group for entrepreneurs called StartupJax that is aimed at bringing the Jacksonville, FL community together. We’ve grown to just over 500 members that continuously share their stories and what they’re working on. It’s hard not to be inspired when you surround yourself with people who put everything on the line in the hopes of building what they feel is right.
The Garage Group helps corporate brands and teams innovate like startups. Know someone who is innovating like a startup, even in a corporate environment? Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org for thought leaders we can feature on this blog!