How to reach the speed of startups in innovation initiatives if you are a large company.

Big companies can reach a speed of startups while building innovations through 5 simple rules. Before I explain them, let me quickly remind, why speed matters if you are a large company:

  • Speed gives advantage over competitors in a fight for market share or niche dominance.
  • Speed requires clear definition of priorities and focus. If a large company is aware of their priorities it reaches laser focus. Decision making process gets leaner.
  • Speed creates action which is quickly validated by results. Quality action hates useless discussions. Speed expects responsibility and deliverables which give value. This is amazing circle.

It is easy to unwind speed in small companies, but the large ones face some specific challenges. So here is how to build momentum and reach speed in large company’s innovation efforts:

  1. Search for collaboration with startups. Startups need to be fast from the beginning. They need to act fast in finding their niche, monetizing traction and learning their customers expectations. Otherwise they die because they build product nobody wants. Investors don’t want to invest in a startup if there is no strong evidence of value commercialisation. Large companies can bring this speed on their deck by collaborating with startups, creating partnership with them, building joint-venture projects or simply utilising startups technology.
  2. Define budget for experiments. Speed is hard to build if there is no experiment culture in large companies. Experiments with customers are the best way to teach people about importance of speed. If you allow employees to build prototypes of products and empower your teams to test those prototypes with customers, you create great conditions for learning how speed is important.
  3. Let them choose. Let people choose what they want to work on. Leave them space for setting up priorities. Empower them to choose what is most important for their delivery milestones and serve as a coach. By giving them freedom to decide, they create their own motivation. Motivation and self-esteem gives speed conditions to develop and grow.
  4. Let them make mistakes. By making mistakes people start to build a sense of importance. Is this innovation more important for our company or there is something that brings more value? If your employees find the power to decide, you have great teams which will ensure there is a speed in your innovation projects.
  5. Make it a process with clear deliverables. What do we need a speed for? What does startup need it for? For delivering faster (tickets, tasks, milestones). For shipping results faster (revenue and other KPIs). For faster discovery of customers needs (list of features). Make sure your employees have a chance to learn what failing fast means or what it means to build a product with a massive feedback from early adopters.

Call to action: if you manage a budget in your company, please try to cut 5% of it. Next, give it to people and let them decide what would be the best way to spend it, what innovation would be great to support with the amount.

Arek Skuza – coFounder of K2 Digital Ventures which helps large companies design and scale innovative ventures with audacity and speed of startups.

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