Everywhere we look, corporations are trying to inject the experimental and disruptive attitudes of the startup world into their businesses. Having spent the last several years developing business innovations for LPK — ranging from process hacks to game-changing spin-offs — I thought it would be helpful to others (and therapeutic for me) to share what I’ve learned so far about bringing the startup mentality to the corporate reality.

THERE ARE NO SECRETS: Everything is meant to be shared

A fundamental difference between corporations and startups is their level of secrecy. While corporations legally protect their competitive advantages through IP and confidentiality agreements, startup culture is much more open source. Consider the ways you inadvertently act secretively, and how you share more of your knowledge with your community.

YOU DON’T KNOW S#!T …: Fortunately this makes you the best disruptor

No matter how creative or open-minded you think you are there are lots of assumptions and fixed thinking that will prevent you from unlocking innovation. As you try to disrupt your business, consider new opportunities outside of your category where you won’t be weighed down by past experience.

DELEGATION IS DEAD: Now life sucks

In the corporate world, established processes make it easy to delegate different parts of the work to teams. In a startup culture, you have to roll up your sleeves and do the prototyping yourself. No one else understands your (half-baked) idea better than you do. Only then can you start to get suction behind your ideas and pull more people into these projects.

WOOING, WINNING & WOWING: No one tells you about withdrawal symptoms

Managers who shift from a traditional role in their company to one focused on experimentation need to be prepared for ambiguity and lost forms of feedback. With the satisfaction of winning new clients, meeting revenue projects, and delivering great service gone, innovators need to find new forms of personal validation to stay motivated while your failing and flailing.

THINK PORTFOLIO, NOT PET PROJECT: Dump agendas and develop an arsenal of ideas

People in corporate roles usually have time for just one or two personal initiatives, and they end up forcing these pet projects into situations where they don’t make sense. Instead, try to develop a portfolio of ideas so you can stay open to which idea provides the most value. This positions you as a person with a lot of great ideas rather than someone pushing their agenda.

WHAT’S YOUR FORTUNE? WHAT’S YOUR GLORY?: Figure out how to count what counts

Once you understand which of your ideas have the most potential, you must ironically scale them way down to small, incremental experiments as you learn how to optimize them. This creates a unique challenge for measuring your progress against traditional metrics like sales or profit. By building additional metrics, you enable small experiments to be seen as more meaningful. Shout out to the Innovator’s Hypothesis for providing the original insight behind this principle.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: But it’s changing, too…

These are certainly not my most polished insights and anecdotes, but in the land of experimentation you have to acknowledge there are mysteries yet to be understood. So if you need a little therapy yourself, or have things to share from your own adventures, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

LPK Trends Director Michael Roller contributed to this post

VALERIE JACOBS
Vice President, Managing Creative Director, Trends at LPK
Cincinnati xCHANGE – Keynote Speaker