Among the many myths that corporate types have about startups (whether standalone or of the corporate variety) is that there is some kind of alchemy involved. Sort of “Steve Jobs arrives on a clamshell and the world is changed forever!” They think growing new businesses requires some instinctive DNA that founders are born with and that other mere mortals will never possess.
If you have been feeling the pace of change accelerating, 2018 will demand an even faster pace. Companies that thrive will have to learn to experiment like a startup.
The anger that fuels my mission today surges from a speech I heard a year ago, in Las Vegas, in a packed conference hall. The keynote speaker opened with the line: “I have come to believe that large organizations cannot innovate. They produce ‘innovation antibodies’ that attack new ideas.”
You have an idea that will generate new profits for your company and make you even more of a hero. You can already feel the pats on your back and the industry keynote speech you will deliver, humbly explaining how you did it.
The world seems to have suddenly discovered a nirvana of agile prototyping. Some call it lean or lean start-up, some use human-centered design or design thinking, and you may even hear reference to agile or scrum. Whatever the name, the core message is the same: stop trying to build an idea (a business plan, product, marketing message) to perfection. Instead, conduct small experiments with your stakeholders to learn and improve.
Thousands of years ago, hunter-gatherers huddled around campfires would share stories of the “great hunt” or battle. Our heroes in these narratives left the safety of camp, clad in leather, wielding swords, stepped into dark woods to battle a mythically large creature or enemy, and returned in glory with meat to feed a village.
We had the opportunity to speak with Thomas Healy, CEO of HeadSmart Labs. Healy is a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University and the starting punter for the school’s football team. He started HeadSmart Labs with researchers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh to develop new testing methods and safety devices for athletes to help prevent head and neck injuries.