Startup Ideas making it to Enterprise

Reverse “brain drain” – the osmosis of startup ideas into the enterprise

Throughout most of the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s successful big company ideas, concepts and models – such as Rank and Yank (GE, Microsoft), Be number one or two in a market or get out (GE as well), Just in Time Manufacturing (Japan), etc. were pretty popular.

Now, of course, most bigger companies are adopting the theories, practices and models that startups have pioneered – Lean startup methodology, DevOps, Customer development, Business model canvas, Move fast and break things, Open office space, etc.

This “reverse brain osmosis” is critical since startups have captured the imagination of most people.

It is easy to just put these cultural and thematic phenomena as “adopting what’s successful”, but there’s more to it than just larger companies adopting successful startup ideas.

Over the last 3 years as I talk to more larger companies and startup entrepreneurs, I have not been asked by a single entrepreneur “What are large companies doing that we should adopt”?

I have though been asked by almost every large company executive “What are startups doing that we can learn from”?

The biggest reason is changing market demographics and technology. Both of these are critical. Without mobile, these would not have been possible to a large extent. Mobile changes everything.

The first, demographics and attitudes of the younger folks is driving companies and businesses to adapt as well. Millennial’s especially (most dont like that term, BTW) have much different expectation from their work, life and the balance of it.

The most important change is that they want everything now and the flexibility to work when they want to.

Which is why I think “the gig economy” or “the on-demand economy” is a much bigger concept than any other for this generation and likely be the most dramatic change for the next 20 years.

“Work” is really a man-made concept. As a friend put it yesterday, it is exchange / creation of value for goods and services desired. If we can abstract why we need to work from why we want to work, then it becomes a question of bringing value to another human’s life.

That’s the reason why startups, especially in the Silicon Valley measure the “change the world” factor that their company brings about.