Think like a startup

Think like a startup

Big companies often find themselves struggling to keep up with the agility and innovation of startups.

Often having to resort to an expensive merger or acquisition at a later stage to keep up with the development of the newcomers.

Why don’t big companies work more like a startup?

Startups, with their lean structures and flexible strategies, have much to teach larger corporations about efficiency and product development success.

Also read The ten commandments of founding a startup

Let’s explore how adopting a startup mindset can revitalize the way big companies approach product development.

Setting a clear and bold vision

A hallmark of successful startups is their ability to set a clear and bold vision that guides every decision and action.

This vision acts as a north star, inspiring the team and aligning their efforts towards a common goal.

Big companies can learn from this by articulating a compelling vision that not only sets the direction for future growth but also motivates employees to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

A bold vision fosters a culture of ambition and innovation, encouraging teams to tackle big challenges and pursue transformative ideas.

The importance of a versatile team with clear roles

In the startup ecosystem, the team’s versatility is a critical asset.

Each member often wears multiple hats, contributing across different areas while still owning a clear area of expertise.

This dynamic balances the flexibility needed in a fast-paced environment with the depth of knowledge necessary for innovation.

Big companies can benefit from encouraging a similar approach, where cross-functional collaboration is the norm, yet individual roles and responsibilities are well-defined.

By expecting team members to step beyond their traditional boundaries without losing sight of their core specialties, organizations can foster a more resilient and adaptive workforce, capable of tackling complex challenges with a holistic perspective.

Also read Strong leadership in product development: the path to innovation

Embrace failure as a stepping stone

Startups understand that failure is not the opposite of success; it’s a part of the journey towards it.

They quickly iterate, learn from mistakes, and move forward with improved solutions.

Big companies can adopt this approach by fostering a culture that doesn’t punish failure but sees it as a necessary step in innovation.

Google even have a process for celebrating failure.

Also read Fail fast

Foster a culture of innovation

In startups, everyone is an innovator.

This culture encourages employees to bring forward ideas, no matter how unorthodox.

Big companies can create internal innovation labs or dedicate time for employees to pursue their own projects, similar to Google’s famous “20% time” policy.

Lean and agile development

Startups work with what they have, optimizing resources for maximum output.

They use agile development practices to rapidly prototype, test, and iterate their products.

Larger corporations can benefit from implementing more flexible project management methodologies, such as Kanban, to enhance team agility and product development speed.

Customer-centric product development

Startups are intensely focused on their customers, often developing products in close collaboration with their end-users.

This direct feedback loop allows for more targeted and successful products.

Big companies can adopt similar strategies by engaging more closely with their customers through social media, beta testing, and early access programs.

Also read Don’t be afraid to talk to people

Speed over perfection

This is a hard one. In the startup world, speed often trumps perfection.

Stay lean with a minimal team with as little overhead as possible.

The goal is to get a minimum viable product (MVP) out the door quickly and refine it based on real-world usage.

This approach can help larger companies avoid the trap of over-engineering, encouraging them to launch earlier and iterate based on customer feedback.

Also read Quick iterations and why you shouldn’t start polishing too early

Decentralized decision-making

Startups benefit from flat hierarchies where decisions can be made quickly and at all levels.

This empowers employees and accelerates innovation.

Large organizations can learn from this by delegating more authority to lower levels of their hierarchy, promoting faster decision-making and increased responsiveness.

Continuous learning and adaptation

For startups, the ability to pivot and adapt to changing market conditions is a matter of survival.

This mindset of continuous learning and adaptation can help big companies stay relevant in rapidly changing industries.

Collaboration and transparency

Startups often work in open-plan offices with a high degree of collaboration and transparency.

This environment fosters a sense of community and shared purpose.

Larger companies can encourage more cross-departmental collaboration and open lines of communication to break down silos and promote innovation.

Start thinking like a startup

Adopting a startup mindset can offer big companies invaluable insights into working more efficiently and succeeding in product development.

By embracing failure, fostering innovation, and focusing on agility, even the largest organizations can revitalize their strategies and stay competitive in today’s dynamic business landscape.

Start thinking like a startup, and watch your company transform.

Also read A method to challenge or build on top of an existing business