Though it’s difficult to define an exact metric, I would look for signs that the company has the built the *capability* to create new businesses into its fundamental operations. Does the company have a division dedicated to testing new ideas, identifying new business models, and (most importantly) *scaling* those new businesses without crushing them under the wheels of the existing business? This is not just an “innovation lab” in San Francisco but rather a demonstrated ability to develop (or acquire and successfully integrate) completely new business lines. If I can find evidence of that, I would believe the company is investing successfully in the long term.
It is definitely hard for companies to invest in MCI’s. We could categorize the difficulties in terms of “will” and “skill.”
Companies find it hard to have the will to invest because their existing RPP’s prioritize sustaining innovations on existing products and existing customer segments. MCI’s look uncertain and unprofitable in comparison to clear investments that can deliver incremental product improvements for an established customer base.
Even if companies manage to find the will, however, they can also have a gap in skill. It’s very difficult to identify a need that the customers themselves cannot articulate. How can you dig this need out through customer research? And how can you identify the right customer segment and build a profitable business model around them? Popular tools like design thinking don’t provide a silver bullet — in fact, there is no well-established process to develop an MCI.
Between the difficulties of will and skill, it’s no wonder that companies find it very difficult to prioritize MCI investments over business as usual.