Paul Carroll

Speech Topics

Think of Billion-Dollar Lessons as the flip side of Good to Great, but just as eye opening and essential as that business classic. Billion-Dollar Lessons might well keep companies from going from good to gone. While success can never be guaranteed, why spend $500 million (or more) repeating someone else’s mistake when you could learn to avoid them?

Rapidly maturing technologies like predictive analytics, embedded sensors, mobile devices, cloud computing and social media are enabling new killer apps and reshaping competition in every information-intensive industry. Conventional wisdom is that small and agile start-ups will out-innovate big and slow incumbents to capture the resultant value. Paul Carroll’s research shows that this need not happen. Yes, small and agile beats big and slow, but big and agile beats anyone—and Paul will show how to achieve this combination.

In addition to their traditional advantages, like expertise, brand, and relationships, incumbents can better leverage new technology-enabled opportunities. They have proven products to incorporate new capabilities. They own mountains of big data from which to extract knowledge. They have growth platforms that would take start-ups years to replicate. They just have to get out of their own way.

Based on research into thousands of successes and failures, Paul offers a roadmap for how large companies should innovate. This roadmap is designed around eight key junctures that his research shows as the most important for successful innovation. The result is a set of eight rules that help incumbents build on their assets and creativity and ensure they unleash killer apps, not killer flops.


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Paul Carroll’s work starts with the recognition that there are many different ways to develop strategy, as captured in numerous books and translated into volumes of frameworks and detailed methodological instructions. Each has its strengths, which depend partly on the industrial, organizational, and competitive context. Both research and experience, however, demonstrate that even the best methodologies are not immune to numerous weaknesses and decision-making traps of the sort described in Billion-Dollar Lessons, which he co-authored with BSG speaker Chunka Mui.

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