Can old dogs learn new tricks? They can and they should in order to remain on top of the pack. Corporations are standing at a critical threshold for their survival and growth. On the one hand, they are long-established, known forces with easily recognizable brands. On the other hand, there is innovation which is, justifiably, the new competitive advantage and where most large organizations are lacking. The truth is that, in most corporate environments, the culture, the processes, even the mindset itself do not foster innovation. They stand for diametrically opposite values to the ones generating innovation in startups; namely, disruption, risk taking, uncertainty, experimentation and flexibility. A shift in mindset is, thus, essential and there is no better place to search how it can be brought about than in startups.
1. Foster an environment which tolerates failure
Innovating entails experimenting and experimenting will inevitably lead to failure at some point. Creating a safe-to-fail workplace starts by allowing experimentation but is fully nurtured when one starts embracing failure as an opportunity to learn valuable lessons. Failing and invalidating projects is inherent to all innovation.
2. Build multi-disciplinary teams.
Such diversity will allow for fresh and unique idea generation. The added advantage is that cross-functional teams usually streamline decision-making and implementation. Nonetheless, it is of the utmost importance to provide constant -even real-time- feedback if possible.
3. Assign each project to a “captain”
When building a startup within a larger organization, it is essential to have a leader that is in charge of all operations, knows every little facet inside out and can make all the hard decisions promptly. This is also the person who will have all the information to report to the C-suite of the organization.
4. Allow all employees to try new things
A truly innovative culture can only be built if everyone in the company is allowed the opportunity to experiment. This is best fostered when employees are given the time and space to work on things not necessarily pertinent to their roles and allowing them to return to their usual responsibilities without reproach if they fail.
5. Establish a rewards scheme
Leading startups into a path of growth requires strenuous work. Therefore, a rewards system should be put in place to recognize the hard-working individuals who have contributed to business success. Rewards could include bonuses, public recognition or profit share.