When it comes to innovations that spur growth, small companies have an advantage over big ones, says Dev Patnaik, whose Jump Associates consults with some of the best-known names in the Fortune 500. The complex systems at large companies can stifle innovation, while smaller firms can encourage creative ideas simply by making employees feel safe. To elicit those ideas, Patnaik suggests being provocative: "Give me an idea that really scares me."

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