Does Every Company Need A Startup Mentality?

company startup mentality

Not a day goes by without you hearing that companies need to be more innovative to survive and prosper and that they should instill a start-up mentality in its employees to foster this kind of innovation. Yet consider for a moment that all your employees are looking for new business models either building upon the current one or completely disrupting themselves.

Or consider that all employees are looking for ways to enhance existing products by adding new features or extending their life cycle. If everyone in the company is doing this well then who’s executing?

Without a proper focus on execution all you end up with is a really cluttered company that cannot deliver products to its customers. Not really appealing is it?

Create a start-up within the company

Instead what you should do is to create a start-up company within the company where employees can be dedicated to innovation and free from the perils of execution. Alternatively you can also simply focus on execution and simple product development like I suggested a few years ago in “If Not You, Then Who Should Innovate?”.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that your employees shouldn’t be looking for new ways of executing that either delivers the product faster, better or cheaper. However, this is different from innovation and more resemble lean where you constantly look to eliminate waste in your processes.

Asking everyone to employ a start-up mentality is a recipe for disaster although on the surface it sounds very appealing. Besides ending up creating clutter the reason is also that innovation and simply coming up with new improvement ideas are completely different processes.

You can find improvement ideas simply by asking a group of people to do a five min brainstorm on their own, a ten minute brainstorm in pairs and a 20 minute brainstorm as a group each time choosing which of the possible ideas they like best.

A structured innovation process requires a much more structured or sometimes even a chaotic process where a number of ideas are brought to the table based on research, experienced problems or an anticipated customer demand. This you can’t do in five minutes!

Without focus your company will die a slow death

You need focus to survive. Focus on innovation. Focus on execution. They need to be separated though as if you try to chase too many ideas at once be they radical or simple you will fail to develop any of them really well and might just end up with a lot of mediocre options and solutions.

If you only have mediocre solutions it’s almost certain that over time you will be noncompetitive and lose your business. If you focus your efforts though on separate tracks following different idea generation processes you will be able to up with much better solutions to identified problems.

One way to do this is simply to create a start-up within the company. What other ideas do you have to become an innovative company? Do you agree that asking everyone to exhibit a start-up mentality can be damaging in the long run?

This is the third installment in my series of articles on where I write about how Finance can help start-up companies succeed as well as how tech and innovation impact Finance and companies in general. You can find previous articles below.

Finance And Technology: An Untold Love Story

Entrepreneurs And Finance Professionals Have The Same DNA

4 Reasons Your Startup Needs A Finance Guy