The Barriers Big Companies Face When They Try to Act Like Startups


Lean Startup methodology is all the rage these days for large companies and an entire cottage industry of consultants has grown up to help large companies adopt ‘lean startup’ methods. But, as the author, Scott Kirsner, notes:

“…many aspects of lean startup, like showing rough prototypes to customers before you’ve invested lots of time and money, iterating based on their feedback, and letting data prove or disprove your hunches, all have powerful appeal inside big companies, where endless meetings and executive approvals often bog down innovation.”

Large company environments are very different that those of startups and these differences are significant enough so that lean startup methods cannot just be transferred ‘en masse’ from the startup world to the large company world.

Look at the world through the lens of uncertainty and you soon realize that the essential difference between startups and large companies is organizational uncertainty. When a startup is pursuing its innovation, there is no uncertainty as to how the new thing will live within the organization. The organization and the new thing are being created together – in a tight, symbiotic, virtuous cycle of development.

In a large organization, the new thing must find a home. It must adapt to the organization or the organization must adapt to it. There is no symbiotic, virtuous cycle of organization and artifact co-evolving – it is more often like a parasitic implant with a likely rejection response.

Although the article doesn’t give many remedies for these issues, it does a nice job pointing them out.

Original Article »


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