Four start-up principles to shake up a 400 year old organisation

Four start-up principles to shake up a 400 year old organisation

We spoke recently about how we’re are in a period of exponential change, where technology is moving at an incredible pace and people are hungry for the latest in technology. It’s an environment that seems to cultivate innovation as start-ups go from strength to strength in the markets they operate in.

So in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, where the likes of Facebook, Uber and Airbnb dominate with apparent ease, how can a company with four hundred years of history learn from these companies and adopt a start-up mind-set?

All businesses, regardless of size or scale can benefit from adopting start up principles to their operation. Whether you’re navigating a huge operation, like we have in our own supply chain, or if you’re a postmaster with a retail store looking to optimise your business.

So here are four principles, typical of start-up culture, which you can apply to enable your business to become more lean, agile and efficient.

Collaboration by default

The key to creativity and innovation is collaboration but siloed working is often the default way we operate. In business, making sure you engage with a range of people across your organisation or across your sector will ultimately make you, or the project your working on more rounded and successful.

Always ask why

Keep asking questions of your business. Why do we do things this way? Why can’t we do it like this? Start-ups have a reputation for continually pushing the boundaries as they look to break the norm. This is achieved by continually questioning the status quo and never settling for an answer. So when someone says no, ask – why not?

Embrace change

We’ve already mentioned how the world is changing at an alarming rate. This applies to the way we work as well. With flexible working and remote working becoming the norm, employers have to embrace and be aware of this to attract the very best people to their organisations.

Of course, there are some instances - such as in customer service - where you can’t work remotely. But an employer has to be aware that their employee might expect more flexibility in their working hours than the traditional 9 to 5. So if you have training, why not use e-learning so staff can complete it at home? Or if an employee needs to work flexibly – why not create an online rota so they can collaborate with other employees when finding shift cover?

Fail Fast, Learn Faster

Allowing room for mistakes ultimately allows people to learn. Start-ups develop and deliver on a very simple model. They initially build a basic product.This essentially means they create something as quickly and as efficiently as possible and send it to market. Then they measure. They take in as much data as possible from their product and assess its success. Then they learn. They use the data they’ve collected and take time to evaluate it. They then take these learnings into the next iteration of building. And if something doesn’t work, they abandon it but they don’t forget it.

By failing fast and learning faster, you too can quickly implement effective change to your business with minimal investment of time and money.

These four principles, although the practice of start-ups, are useful for all businesses. By collaborating with others, questioning the status quo, embracing change and failing fast, we can create a business culture that is lean, collaborative and truly customer centric – which will allow us to flourish in our north star ambitions.

If you have examples of how your business is living these principles let us know in the comments!