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I've noticed in talking to some startup companies that as you grow, the agile culture of, "think fast, act fast," must be integrated with an anchor of sustainability.
It can be a bit of a mind-bend and even feel like operating in two worlds, especially in the beginning. The question becomes, "Is it possible to integrate consistent systems and processes while maintaining the benefits of the fast-moving startup culture?"
Can you get just corporate enough to yield sustainable business and growth, while maintaining your startup culture?
Yes, it is possible and requires simple planning and tenacious leaders with a commitment to communication. As you reach a certain level of growth in your startup, your product must maintain a certain standard of delivery, respond to the market and manage shifting business goals while keeping customers happy.
Oddly enough, larger corporations are actually struggling with the same conversation on the other end. They are beginning to implement agile methods into their system implementations. They are finding that their systems, processes and traditional way of doing things hard to maintain in a quickly developing world. Yet, they see the value and struggle to make it work.
I've worked on system implementations since 2006 and have seen the insides of a number of companies in industries varying from retail, to entertainment, to healthcare. On a recent project with an entertainment giant that consistently pushes the envelope, they were implementing a completely customized system that billions of dollars flowed through using agile methods.
Having seen both sides of the equation -- small budgets to mega budgets, small teams to huge complex teams -- the underlying problem is always communication.
As we, the technology industry, evolve, customer development becomes synonymous with product development: Design and function are interwoven, and engineering and marketing are integrated.
In order to support this, a new way of communicating is being called forth; a dynamic communication that supports productive conversations between engineering and marketing, sales and product development and effectively captures the output into a workflow that can be implemented.
If you are struggling with this problem in your startup (or system implementation) ask yourself these three questions:
- What company structures are in place to facilitate communication?
- How is the output of a meeting/conversation captured and funneled into a workflow?
- Do you have an effective workflow in place, if one at all?
As the startups of today, you are the future IPOs of tomorrow. You have the chance to change the face and experience of "Corporate America" into one that inspires us as much as the fast-paced, ever-changing, startup world does. Let your growth be our economic transformation. The big companies are looking at you for clues.