Lessons For The Big Shot

Large corporations have systems, processes, and protocols in place for conducting business. These well-defined systems help them standardise their day-to-day practices. But start-ups generally do not have extensive maps for navigating through the landscape of their daily business. Although many small enterprises worry about the lack of ‘formal’ organisational systems, there are quite a few advantages in being flexible. Here are six lessons big firms can adopt from their start up cousins:
openness to change People working in large companies get used to the boundaries set by systems and processes, and this at times diminishes their ability to accommodate new ideas. In a regimental environment, dynamic employees with innovative ideas begin to feel stifled.
Often, pre-defined ways of doing things teaches people to ‘say no’. What is not as per norms gets shot down; it becomes an easy reason to reject innovation because the general tendency is to maintain the status quo. Start-ups have no choice but to remain open to change. If they do not adapt, they die. This is perhaps a lesson for big companies who, in the need to solidify systems, end up becoming rigid. This rigidity then transforms into lethargy and leads to fall in market share.
Simplification of work long checklists do not always make a workplace efficient. Too many checks and balances can complicate the tasks at hand. Some big companies even manage to create mechanisms which make the simplest of tasks complicated. Simplification unstructured, clean-slate thinking of small tasks is the first step towards solving any business problem.
Big firms do not allow people to break the barriers of past actions. Every time something is to be designed, there is an inherent tendency to look backwards in search of a similar context from the past. And companies often stick to an earlier process, failing to realise that the context in which it was established may not suit the present. Start-ups, on the other hand, avoid this stickiness by approaching decision scenarios with a fresh perspective.
Adjusting to customer expectations agile companies believe in outside-in thinking. Big firms, to the contrary, end up nurturing an inside-out approach. Small and medium enterprises always keep the outsiders’ expectations at the top of their priority list. They handle customer expectations in a manner, which enables them to learn from their mistakes. Large companies have well-established practices for customer relationship management. However, these practices are often so full of methodical loops that there is hardly any scope to incorporate change in customer expectations. As competitors gain experience in serving the market, companies have to accept the fact that their ability to calibrate to rising customer expectations must increase proportionately. This is another key lesson start-ups teach big players, who sometimes feel that they have everything to achieve customer delight.
Moving on there is a saying, ‘success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to
continue that counts.’ small companies have better survival instincts than the bigger players in the market. Entrepreneurs are risk-takers; they do not get stuck in the past. The speed of recovery from a lost opportunity for large corporations is much slower than start-ups. This is simply due to the ‘clinging on’ trait of professional managers who invest tremendous amount of their time and energy in starting a new project. For them, it is hard to digest the failure of a deal that falls apart. This is an important lesson from small enterprises, if things do not work out, simply move on. The opportunity cost of lingering on mistakes is sometimes too exorbitant. Envisioning infinite scale though this might also be a criticism of the start-up world, the fact is every starry-eyed entrepreneur is targeting a billion-dollar valuation, at the least. Some of them will even go on to achieve it. While there is something to be said for ‘realistic’ planning, the corporate world has become too straitjacketed in their quarterly reports to target a quantum leap in numbers.
Speed at least among the large corporations, we notice a general attitude of
instrumentalism. In a start-up, founders not only want outstanding results but they also want it ‘now’. This leads to a premium being placed on speed. That is one of the reasons new economy players have, in under a decade, replaced some of the erstwhile giants.

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