Like most things, when we use either/or, we usually end up with false dichotomies.
Firstly, what is great advice in one situation can be terrible advice in another. It is ultimately context dependent and it depends on the company we’re dealing with, their value chain, existing resources, processes, policies, nature of their product etc.
What tends to work is a hybrid approach, whereby investment is made in empowering internal innovation (this involves addressing limiting processes and cultural barriers — eg. business case process, incentives, funding, a process to rapidly experiment across lots of ideas, capability building etc) in addition to partnering with external parties that can complement the organisation’s strengths — whether they be consultants, agencies, startups, academia etc.
Whenever there is ambiguity, we must experiment, fast. That’s ultimately what companies should be doing, preparing a shortlist of strategies, prioritising them, and then finding ways to effectively and quickly test their value. They should be applying concepts like the lean startup to their innovation program to determine what works for them.
When people suggest silver bullet solutions, they are usually anything but. If this sh*t was easy, everybody would have the answers, and articles like this would be redundant.