Innovation’s Lone Wolves

Summit speaker Michael Docherty has a name and advice for innovative employees in slow-to-change organizations

Innovation doesn’t thrive without leadership’s support. Without the governance, new roles, budget, and patience allotted by company executives, new ideas don’t grow to become effective programs. Often times, mid-level employees need to rally for support from the top. Michael Docherty, author of Collective Disruption, has a name for those employees who would like to see more innovation programs adopted by their companies: lone wolves.

A lone wolf will almost definitely fit the typical innovation mold — entrepreneurial & curious with a sense for disruptive opportunities and a drive for change. We rounded up some advice for these innovators on a recent episode of the I/O Podcast:

Q: How does a lone wolf successfully campaign for innovation?

Docherty: “The tough part is navigating within the corporate walls and getting other people excited. It’s certainly a challenge. If you can put together a problem to the company that has been vexing the company, maybe an area that the company is already committed to but has tried and failed internally and elsewhere to get an answer. Taking something where if you believe there was a solution that there would be support for it and structuring that as an externally focused startup program to get people on the outside innovating on your behalf. Then you’re kind of leveraging that creative muscle in a way that’s not costing you much and doing it in an area that’s important to the company. Getting a couple of quick wins like that is what it takes to get a little bit of momentum.

I would say to do this structurally and to do the major changes that make this at scale does require senior level engagement, but I do believe in and have a lot of respect for the people in the middle who are trying to champion this.”

Hear other companies share their experience on the road to executive support, and learn more from Michael at the I/O Summit this June:

BMW’s Startup Garage: Hear the Startup Garage founders discuss their approach to presenting an innovation program to company executives. They didn’t follow company protocol and it worked.

Neopost’s Innovation Labs: Listen to a Neopost Executive detail their thought and decision making process. They looked outside for successful case studies before moving forward.

Join Us at The Inside/Outside Innovation Summit

  • Meet startup founders tackling the problems your corporation hasn’t been able to solve.
  • Meet others who have facilitated new innovative methods and mindsets in large organizations.
  • Collect case studies to present to executives.

Hosted by Econic and the Inside/Outside Innovation podcast team, the Inside/Outside Innovation Summit is a 3-day national conference that will bring together high-growth startups and corporate innovators to collide and engage with new startups, new technologies, new business models and new talent. It will also feature hands-on learning sessions and a $100k investment pitch competition.

For more information or to register go to