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Treating Large Company Innovation Like a Startup

Treating Large Company Innovation Like a Startup

While large companies possess vast resources, a broad customer base, and established brand equity, they often need help fostering genuine innovation. The reason? The traditional structures, processes, and red tape that have made them successful can also be the chains that hold them back. Here’s why growth and innovation in large corporations should mirror the startup approach.

The Startup Spirit

Startups are nimble, agile, and risk-tolerant. Their survival hinges on innovation. They iterate fast fail often, but learn and pivot quicker. For large corporations, replicating this spirit can unlock unprecedented levels of innovation.

Break the Chains of Bureaucracy

Traditional corporate structures are layered, slow, and riddled with bureaucracy. They prioritize stability over agility, which can stifle innovation. Adopting a startup approach means:

  1. Decentralizing Decision-making: Empower smaller teams to make decisions without seeking approval at every stage.
  2. Embracing Risk: While calculated, being willing to take risks can open doors to groundbreaking solutions.
  3. Promoting Agility: Adopt agile methodologies that prioritize iterative development and customer feedback.

Cultivate a Growth Mindset

Startups are built on a foundation of growth. Large companies should:

  1. Encourage Lifelong Learning: Offer resources, workshops, and courses to keep employees updated and driven.
  2. Reward Innovation: Recognize and reward employees who come up with novel solutions or ideas, irrespective of whether they are immediately actionable.
  3. Provide Autonomy: Let teams own projects, fostering a sense of responsibility and encouraging innovation.

Prototype and Iterate

In startups, MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) are essential. They allow for testing hypotheses with minimal resources. Large companies should:

  1. Build Prototypes: Before investing heavily, test an idea’s validity with prototypes.
  2. Gather Feedback: Use customer insights to refine the product.
  3. Iterate: Based on feedback, make the necessary modifications and retest.

Collaborate Beyond Boundaries

Startups often work in co-working spaces, collaborate with other startups, and are open to partnerships. Large corporations can:

  1. Engage with Startups: This can be through incubators, accelerators, or direct partnerships. It provides a fresh perspective and fosters a culture of innovation.
  2. Open Innovation Platforms: Allow external innovators to contribute, bringing in fresh ideas.


In essence, while large corporations have the advantage of scale, they must shed their traditional, often restrictive, ways of working to innovate effectively. By adopting a startup mindset, they can become powerhouses of both stability and innovation.

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