4 Ways Big Businesses Copy Startup Culture
Drew Hendricks
FEB 18, 2016 13:26 PM
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4 Ways Big Businesses Copy Startup Culture

by Drew Hendricks

Across the country, big corporations are adjusting the way they interact with customers, come up with ideas, and motivate their employees. Instead of operating the way they always have, these businesses are taking a cue from startups and rethinking their workplace culture. As a result, they now have fully-staffed teams of employees who are excited about coming to work every day.

Businesses of all sizes can learn from the culture changes big corporations have been making. Here are a few ways startup culture is transforming business today.

Facebook’s Onboarding Process

When employees start a new job, they brace themselves for the typical orientation process. They know they’ll be filling out a stack of forms and referring to a policies and procedures manual. If they’re lucky, they’ll get a brief introduction to the corporate philosophy and what will be expected of them.

Facebook has tossed all of those formalities aside, embracing an onboarding process that includes a six-week training period where new hires work with teams on real projects. Each new employee is assigned a mentor for one-on-one guidance during the training period and beyond. At the end of the training period, new employees are asked which team they would like to join, which ensures they’re attached to projects they want to work on rather than merely being handed work assignments.

Zappos’ Holacracy

One defining feature of many startups is that all employees are treated equally. Employees usually work alongside founders to grow the business while also helping manage daily operations. This runs contrary to large corporations, where a clear hierarchy establishes that decisions are made at the top and then filtered down to the workers below.

Online shoe retailer Zappos sees the effect a top-down approach has on employees throughout the organization. Instead of a hierarchy, Zappos has chosen a “Holacracy” approach to leadership, with power distributed throughout the organization. Instead of doing their jobs and letting their superiors worry about the results of that work, each employee at Zappos takes personal accountability for work performance. As a result, employees gain a deeper satisfaction from the work they’re doing.

GE’s FastWorks

The book The Lean Startup describes how agile software development concepts can be used in every type of manufacturing and creation. GE has put these concepts to work with its FastWorks program, which is a startup strategy within its own larger organization. The company first put this project to use in developing a refrigerator with French doors. A newly-formed team was told to create a working product within three months on a very small budget.

The team worked directly with customers through every step of the development process. Additionally, the team visited design centers to test products out with designers. With each concept the team developed, customers were asked to provide feedback and the team made changes in response to that feedback. The result was that the team was able to get the product to market in a shorter timeframe with assurances that customers would respond well to it, since they had been involved in each step of development.

Startup Studios

A new startup studio from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is offering established businesses opportunities usually only provided to startups. Those opportunities include an entrepreneur-in-residence program where established business owners can work on their own great ideas. In an environment where businesses like GE are searching for ways to innovate their companies, this type of program could provide the support entrepreneurs need.

In addition to their entrepreneur-in-residence programs, BCG also offers established entrepreneurs access to tours of some of Silicon Valley’s most well-known businesses. For businesses not participating in incubators, a tour of local startups could help entrepreneurs get ideas that they can take back to their own businesses.

From large corporations to new startups, workplace culture is essential to building productive, happy teams. By paying attention to the way startups hire, manage, and motivate their workers, established businesses of all sizes can improve their results while also reducing employee turnover.

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