Brute force is a growth method used by big multinational companies that can afford it. Brute force is basically buying everything that can be bought – sales people, real estate, advertising, research, data. Big companies have big budgets and they spend a lot to keep the competitors away, maintain status quo, and grow.
For SMBs which can not afford brute force innovation is the only way to grow. However, innovation is also challenging. In most SMBs innovation process is not a predictable system which delivers continuous results but an act of random good will and inspiration.
This is why open innovation is a perfect solution for SMB growth. It allows SMBs to apply a systematic innovation approach which can compete against brute force. The very weaknesses of SMBs – good will, lack of rigid processes, high creativity – become strengths in open innovation. Also big companies traditionally have a hard time to be open or change in any way, while SMBs are automatically open and flexible.
My advice is that SMBs should avoid investing in brute force methods (advertising, sales people) before they adopted open innovation. Their brute force investments will be much more effective when they are more open and have systemic innovation in place.