Remember Blockbuster? Kodak? Borders? Sony? These companies have one big thing in common: they failed to stay relevant due to their inability to be agile and innovative. These types of corporations are often too bureaucratic and too slow-moving to keep up with faster and more agile startups, and in this day and age, that’s a killer. To stay alive, they need to completely overhaul their culture and older ways of thinking. By adopting agility into the heart of their business, they might just have a shot at keeping up with their startup peers!
But how do we define agility? And how do companies guarded by bureaucratic policies and red tape actually implement it? The agile method is marked by creative teamwork and lean development, essentially boosting creativity while reducing inefficiency: think more brainstorming and experimentation, as well as new approaches to team management. This doesn’t directly translate to becoming a startup, but rather implementing a new kind of business culture through
* Passionate and entrepreneurial leaders
* A more personable work environment
* An experience that values employees
* Growth oriented mindsets
Culture is key to operational excellence. This culture starts from the top, he adds, and trickles from senior leadership all the way down. Several ways that larger corporations to adopt start-up methods is by training and investing in passionate “B-players” rather than seeking out “A-players”. Focus on speed of execution over bureaucracy. This involves risk (but not without reward). It’s all about putting experimentation and innovation first.
Successful adoption is about two critical things: 1) accelerating the speed of innovation and 2) giving internal businesses and teams an outside-in perspective. Several larger companies that have become lean, focused, and maniacally strategic are Intuit (software), Kimberly-Clark (paper), and Whirlpool (appliances).
Intuit, which organizes multi-day intrapreneur gatherings that focus on testing ideas, also engages in customer “follow-me homes” in order to immerse leaders in the customer’s natural environment. Kimberly-Clark, which promotes one-day “expert acceleration sessions”, recruits thought leaders from other companies, universities and startups to lead deep dives that deliver strategic and practical insight. Whirlpool utilizes a network of innovation mentors who help guide business teams. These strategies aren’t about doing things completely new or out of line, but rather re-inventing entrepreneurial thinking within typically bureaucratic businesses.
So how do these weighty corporations stay afloat on the innovation wave? They shed the bureaucracy and find the fastest paddlers.