[TechRepublic] Can large companies adopt the agility of startups?

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On this matter, here is an article about agility. Analysts in a recent session with IBM delivered a clear message: More large companies need to reinvent themselves with startup thinking if they are going to survive an unexpected and perilous turn of events in their industries.

The slang term that is going around for this phenomenon is uberization. It is a derivative from ride sharing service Uber, which revolutionized the taxi and chauffeur industries instantly and now threatens their existence.

The idea of bullet-proofing your organization from uberization by becoming fleet of foot with innovation is tantalizing in whiteboard discussions—but how easy is it to do for large companies with layers of product and idea vetting processes, regulatory and political constraints?

In a LinkedIn post, entrepreneur and investor Yann Girard, wrote that corporations are too riddled with red tape, regulations, protocol, politics, CYA and fear of risk for their employees to take on the unknowns associated with the practices of startups, where immense rewards loom on the distant seashore but the waters that must be traversed to get there are laden with sharks.

Digital music history provides a good example. Once upon a time, Sony dominated the electronics space. As far back as transistor radios, through the iconic 1979 Walkman cassette player — and on through CDs — Sony was the premium name. By the time the 2000s closed in, the brand everyone wanted was Apple, not Sony. Apple stepped in with iTunes and the iPod, and soon virtually every listener was plugged into the iTunes ecosystem. Although Sony had more resources than Apple, it was also burdened with long product development cycles and slow communications between its various operating divisions. This lack of coordination delayed Sony’s efforts to develop MP3, and it allowed Apple, with its startup, quick to market culture, to get there first.

So, if you’re a CXO in a large company and you want to infuse more startup philosophy into the organization, what can you do?

1. Give employees sandbox opportunities

When we talk about a sandbox, we’re usually talking about an IT area (like big data) where employees can experiment with different theories with the understanding that while a great idea might bubble to the top, more often than not, many experimental efforts will fail. If employees know that their superiors understand this, it cures the fear that employees have of failure and allows them to create. There is also no reason why this sandbox concept can’t be extended to non-technology areas such as customer service, manufacturing, purchasing and even HR.

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