This article is brought to you by Cavemen Global.

Jean-Paul Valdes, CEO of Cavemen Global, asserts that organisations can’t simply balance a start-up culture with their existing culture. Instead, the entire organisation has to change. Here’s what to do. 

Q How can we balance innovation and results when creating a dynamic change in the organisation?

All organisations must innovate or die. That said, it is necessary for an organisation to decide its innovation model first. Here are some options:

  • Evolutionary innovation: In this case, you take existing products and do iterative improvements on the products to create innovation. It’s a slow, but deliberate way to develop.
  • A ‘creation’ model of innovation: This follows the traditional R&D model where you park manpower and resources to develop new and different products to meet existing or new customer demands.
  • The ‘sloppy success’ model: You produce a first pass of the product, see if the market wants it and then sell it. This model then most likely goes into the evolutionary model of innovation and gets better over time.
  • The ‘intrapreneurship’ model (a variance of the creation model): You empower staff to develop new ideas and products that may be relevant or parallel to the current product offerings.

A company needs to first know which approach it wants to take. The first and third options are better for small businesses and risk-taking organisations. They are less capital intensive and can have immediate payoffs when it comes to results, but also require patience and commitment when taking corrective action.

The second and fourth are more traditional business models which require a bigger amount of allocated resources, but also tend to produce a polished product. These models are often for the more risk-averse, and allow for longer development lead times, but at a much higher cost.

Q Why do so many organisations fail when it comes to empowering their staff on starting new divisions/revenue streams?

Many organisations want to innovate, but are afraid to commit to it. Two primary issues that cause companies to not empower their staff are culture and budget.

In terms of culture, most organisations don’t have a unit of measure attached to innovation as a success factor. We will share more on this during Accelerate HR 2020, Malaysia.

On the matter of budgets, it’s about whether an organisation has a budget set aside for internal investment in product development. In my experience, organisations plan for marketing, commissions, and salary, but don’t often think about allocating sufficient budgets to new product development until it’s too late.

Apart from that, many organisations also don’t have people who can truly assess the potential value of a product in a market.

Q How does the company balance a start-up culture with an existing organisation culture?

I don’t think you can balance an existing culture with a start-up culture. It will create an in-group/out-group mentality. Instead, have an organic and dynamic culture that has a clear sense of personal ownership from the staff to pursue clear and measurable results. Have the idea of ‘failure’ fit into any work culture, existing or otherwise. Remove the idea of punitive responses to failure and make it teachable. By all means, have standards of operation, but don’t make failure something that people fear. Additionally, every organisation can benefit from people willing to contribute ideas, so set up a culture that allows people to bring up ideas and have a system to ensure that management actually reviews them and provides feedback. As long as you are willing to do that, you don’t need a start-up culture inside of the existing culture, you just need to have people who champion an inclusive and dynamic culture.

Q How do you start creating a start-up culture in your existing organisation?

To truly create a start-up culture in your organisation, ask yourself this: Are you willing to see the entire organisation change? If the answer is no, then stop right now. If the answer is yes; here are some steps you can take:

  1. Start with a way to capture any and all ideas. It can be as simple as a suggestion box model. The method doesn’t matter. Just have one.
  2. Have rules and boundaries for what constitutes an idea for incubation. People need to know what is and isn’t possible so they can be creative.
  3. Have a mechanism for the communication of ideas. Make the decisionmaking process as transparent as possible.
  4. Give people time to develop their ideas during working hours. If you want people to think and innovate, they need to have the time to do it.
  5. Hold nothing sacred. Innovation works best in a place where almost anything can change and grow.
  6. Support staff to feel they can initiate and own the change they want to create. Foster a sense of ownership. It creates a very different level of commitment to fulfil upon.
  7. Embrace the beauty of learning through failure.
  8. Enforce the culture of innovation and brainstorming. You will need to police this or it will break down.

Jean-Paul Valdes is a transformation expert. As an ICF-certified professional business coach, he has supported over 400 business owners and high-level executives to achieve tremendous breakthroughs through transforming their behaviours, beliefs and habits to powerfully move forward and transform themselves. He has also worked with various multinational corporations to shift their cultures and teams to achieve greater cohesion and leadership within their organisations.

Hear more from Jean-Paul Valdes, CEO, Cavemen Global, on fuelling an internal start-up culture at Accelerate HR 2020, Malaysia.


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