Silicon Valley is 1,500 square miles of the most fertile ground on the planet and a giant launch pad for some of the world's most famous startups. Tesla, Facebook, Apple and Google are just some of the companies that have made it their home. What's telling is, irrespective of size, they cultivate a belief system that with the right mindset anything is possible.
Fast Eats Slow.
Success is no longer about being big or small. It's about speed, pivoting and rapid scaling. In our lifetime, technology has advanced at an extraordinary rate (the first web browser was only invented in 1994 and the first iPhone in 2007). Research by Boston Consulting Group illustrates the time it's taken for each one of the following inventions to reach 100 million users:
- Telephone: 75 years
- Web: 7 years
- Facebook: 4 years
- Instagram: 2 years
Think Like A Startup.
Ernst and Young (EY), the global professional services firm, asked more than 1,000 individuals working in big companies how they felt about work today. Only three out of ten respondents agreed their organization had a startup mindset. The three biggest obstacles you must overcome in order to unlock a startup mindset are:
1. Organizational barriers. Fear is the enemy of innovation: fear of judgment, fear of the unknown, and fear of failure can prevent the best-intentioned people from taking risks. To think and act like a startup, you must incentivize risk taking and put experimentation and intelligent failure at the heart of your culture.
2. Cognitive barriers. The demands on our time make it hard for the brain to think clearly. Thanks to unhealthy eating and sleeping habits, our brains are rarely in peak condition. Information overload, digital distractions, and sloppy thinking can literally stop innovation in its tracks. The best entrepreneurs let their minds wander. Take a brain break: go for a walk and get some fresh air. This is often where great ideas lie dormant.
3. Schlep blindness: Paul Graham, cofounder of Y Combinator, is credited with this clever insight. He explains: "There are great startup ideas lying around unexploited right under our noses. One reason we don't see them is a phenomenon I call schlep blindness. Schlep was originally a Yiddish word but has passed into general use in the US. It means a tedious, unpleasant task." To overcome schlep blindness, write your fears down and bounce ideas around with the team. Ideas usually go through a series of stages from "that's a bad idea" to "that's a good idea" and then finally "that's my idea". Graham says ideas can be obvious but hard, easy, and overcrowded, or not obvious but hard. Be open to hidden insights: prototype ideas quickly until they make sense and remember most good ideas start as bad ideas.
The Final Word.
A startup mindset gives you huge advantages in this complex new world. It helps you adapt quickly, duck hazards, and grab opportunities faster than larger, sleepier competitors. And working with tight constraints can challenge outdated assumptions and force more creativity. While big companies are busy protecting the golden goose with business as usual, you will be ready to invent the future.