Notes That Every Executive Should Take from Startup Culture

People love a good startup story. Someone has a good idea and is able to translate and scale it into a profitable, popular, and successful company. But in many of the articles dissecting startup culture, the focus is on the perks: the game tables, the beer fridge, the casual dress. The real story of startup success is how they have crafted their company culture to embrace entrepreneurial ideas, boldness, and innovation.

What do companies with a startup culture do that make a meaningful difference?

They lace audacity with grit. Failure doesn’t stop the startup. The employees in a startup culture are all determined to succeed, no matter what happens. They remain level-headed about failure and comfortable with the messiness that comes with experimentation. They commit to assessing, refining, and reintroducing the systems that will make the thing work.

They get acquisitions right. They know that the time to strike in an acquisition is not at the beginning when the startups need freedom, or in the late stages when the startup has established a reputation. Large companies can also be too controlling after acquiring a start-up, layering on rules and practices that don’t fit with the existing culture of the acquired company.

They use strong leadership to enable collaboration. True collaboration happens by habit, not by chance or by decree. It happens across departments and organizational levels. And it happens because a leader with a strong vision has set the stage and empowered people at all levels to come together.

They think like engineers AND customers. In startup culture, the product and/or service is everyone’s job. From the CEO to the production line, everyone is thinking of ways to make the customer’s experience better. Everyone is all in on the vision for the product and determined to wow the customer.

They search for candidates with nontraditional backgrounds. According to Eric Ries, leader of The Lean Startup movement, businesses currently hire too many employees based on technical skills alone. Startups, meanwhile, place an emphasis on softer skills like emotional intelligence and resilience, which can make them very effective organizational change leaders.

They give employees (and their dogs) a long leash. Startups understand that what really motivates their talent pool is the opportunity to shape their own path. They understand how to set clear expectations around goals and investment risk but let employees define the best way to meet them.

They cultivate their workforce with accountability, not new hires. When there’s an innovation problem in your organization, startups know that the first place you look to cultivate talent is within, not by hiring hotshot new employees. Employees who know how to be successful in an organization and who are provided the opportunity to highlight their strengths can take on work that will benefit the entire organization.

Now what?

How can you harness these tips to drive change within your organization to embrace the spirit of the startup and enable a culture of innovation? One word. Incentives. Incentives are especially important in changing behavior. Jubi can help your employees engage in the process of progressive achievement, with incentives along the way. Jubi is a cloud-based platform that will drive validated behavioral and business outcomes for any organizational change initiative you embark on.

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