VENTURE BUILDING: Bite Size Experiments

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Since 1958, the rate that companies have fallen off the fall S&P 500 list has plummeted, as revealed in “Creative Destruction,” a book by Richard N. Foster and Sarah Kaplan. The lifespan of a company on that list went from 61 years in 1958 to 18 years by 2017. Corporate leadership, they say, needs to depart from legacy approaches in venture building and adapt to new ways of thinking to speed business growth.

Venture Building Escape Team Event
Venture Building was the name of the game for MT Bank in Buffalo

Companies in search of the next corporate unicorn need to sharpen their focus internally to build that next big business. A recent EY-Parthenon survey of 1,000 C-suite executives showed they may be aiming far too low. The companies spent an average of 15 percent of their operating budget on venture building in 2023, nearly twice that of 2022. Among the respondents, 45 percent were satisfied generating at least $100 million in annual revenue in the past five years, but for a large cap corporation, that’s not enough. EY Parthenon considers $1 billion in market cap is what it will take to stay ahead of the pack.

EY Parthenon, Ernst & Young’s boutique version of McKinsey, details five points to establish principles for a venture-building engine, as recently published in Harvard Business Review, shown below. (Note #5 .. that’s where Venture Up Team Building comes in):

1. Get buy-in: Align key decision-makers on a clearly defined set of success criteria to ensure new ventures get the appropriate amount of runway to succeed.

2. Keep it separate: Ringfence personnel, resources, and capital from the core business, so the venture does not compete with core business priorities yet can still tap the endowments of the core business.

3. Reward quick wins: Deploy a series of capital funding rounds as the new venture reaches milestones that prove its viability and build the business with conviction.

4. Don’t go it alone: Deploy a “build, buy, partner” model that uses internal endowments, brings along ecosystem partners, and strategically acquires complementary capabilities, market access or both.

5. Cross the chasm by starting small: Use bite-sized experiments that identify a scalable recipe at low cost or risk, rather than making a large investment in untested solutions with a high risk of failure.

People are the power driving any goal, let along a lofty $1 billion+ one. When it comes to EY’s “bite size experiments,” Venture Up has a 40-year track record of delivering the very tools that align corporate goals in a stimulating and fun way for team members to digest together and transfer into practice.

TUCSON ROCK CLIMBING with EY circa 1990s

Venture Up has a long history with Ernst & Young, which began in the 1980s. While it was never part of the event, the company typically invited Venture Up staff to their after-program dinner where it was evidently clear subordinate staff were comfortable socializing and sharing concerns with leadership. After a Tucson rock climbing program in the early 1990s, our staff was unable to attend the dinner since it was Halloween and everyone’s kids were waiting to celebrate. Some of the employees expressed that they preferred to have had the night off too, but they were a plane ride away from their own families. Leadership got the message.

Venture Up recommends these programs to align staff with company goals:

Strategic Games and Escape the Case. For more info, please call 888-305-1065 or 602-955-9100 or mail

Escape Game Themes
Choose a theme for your Escape Case a 2 hour program to build relationships and have fun