By John Mulhall, see more by him hereTo be sustainable, big business needs to become organizationally flexible in dealing with competition from smaller, more agile companies.

Reinventing the Wheel, why Tech startups need to consider Business Culture

That sounds heavy right? Well it is, but as Benjamin Franklin said, “Lazyness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him”. The famous American revolutionary was poking fun at those in business in (18th Century) post-colonial America who believed that they had a great product range and with it were somehow immune from change.

When thinking back to those days, the American Industrial Revolution had taken hold and the relatively low expectations of the common man led to an inherent belief imported from Europe that if we make one thing easily and make lots of it, the people will learn to love it!

Today we should have gotten over that notion with the arrival of the Information era and the power of interconnectedness!!

In business, this new informed outlook has opened up opportunity to many who have the ability to make a better world with their ideas, knowhow and can do attitude.

Sounds great, but why are we still needing a modern day Benjamin Franklin to remind us that complacency and assumption are still recipes for disaster in an ever changing world?

Apparently for some in big business, this is seen as a threat not an opportunity. Such attitudes can be found in many businesses struggling with the ever changing landscape due to been “too big” when they really should be framing their problem around been “too inflexible.”

Some of the reasons for that narrowed marketplace view can be:

Change Resistant Culture – many business cultures are fearful of change as many leaders have a vested interest in the status quo.

Personal Interest – powerful social leaders at all levels in a big business hierarchy can be equally resistant to change as it appears to threaten their perceived level of power in the established status quo at the company.

Knowhow – many people occupying key positions are not skilled and/or competent enough to carry out activities outside of their daily tasking such as change management projects. They instinctively react to resist such development rather then to support it.

Many companies who do not accept this reality may have a senior level mindset that places allot of faith into pursuing a fully M&A orientated approach to growth.

They in essence become great at corporate finance and really bad at good business!

Picture it! Amongst the internal post acquisition confusion, customer wants and needs become a standardization problem with the management driven expectation that one acquired company’s customers will have to fit into the new way of doing business with the acquiring company.

Every lost opportunity adds up very quickly in losses when it’s down to an organisational cause at a cultural, process and/or management level!

So what’s the agile ‘secret sauce’ to customer reengagement? The agility of smaller companies is not in its lack of large process infrastructure, it’s down to how it drives its business! It’s essentially people employed by the business believing in its vision and mission delivering resulting value to customers daily.

Value creation becomes sustainable because the business figured out that people, not products make their business great! Company culture will react and grow with the consistent repetition of practice at all levels which if structured properly as an organisation will deliver a sustainable and profitable business over the longer term.

So, moving onto the good stuff! If a company can incorporate the following points into its leadership practices, business practices and growth strategy, they sow the seeds of sustainable success into their corporate DNA.

Develop and grow with your customers in a way that uses lean process management (or lean six sigma) to effectively deliver a process to a customer with as little effort from the customer as possible, whilst achieving an effective process control state.

Listen to customers and the marketplace in a data driven manner that merges what customers say with what they do producing actionable insights and deliverance of value creation.

Develop new products and markets primarily from employee insights and customer feedback. Line employees know what their customer really wants rather then what’s hot right now! Internal R&D that is employee driven will produce better results then substitute M&A projects for products that management thinks will be good for the top line!

In a people driven culture, engagement and participation are key to a successful M&A integration.

M&A should only proceed with a detailed enterprise risk assessment, standard terms of acquisition and integration timelines that are employee driven not management imposed.

Employee Engagement leading to an employee orientated Company Culture is the first and last word on a sustainable business for any era!

In this information era, insight, not product ranges sow the seeds of longevity that can positively transform the longer-term fortunes of a business acting as a single entity with a single vision guiding it. This simple precept is most difficult to implement, but profoundly felt by employees who share in it delivering value based upon it to customers whom are better off for it!

If a business masters this, then they join the greats with a lifecycle that far exceeds that of its founders!


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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