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Working with startups: IT execs tell their stories

Byron Connolly | May 24, 2016
Companies try to benefit from a startup culture in an increasingly competitive market

Weir adds that tackling legacy thinking and adopting a more agile way of working is “a race that never ends.”

“One of the biggest challenges for most organisations is dealing with that legacy. A lot of the startup mentality, the startup methodologies aren’t rocket science to get your head around.

“Yes, working with people to help you use those methodologies will undoubtedly help. The biggest challenge is how do you get that thinking embedded into the DNA of your organisation, which has worked in a particular way for a long time; that’s the biggest sticking point that I have found.”

Supporting failure

Andy Lamb is the co-founder at Atomic Sky, an investor-led startup studio that supports early stage startup founders and entrepreneurs. Lamb said that larger organisations need to not only support failure but the learning that comes with it.

“That’s what a small startup business tends to do day in, day out – they don’t have the bureaucracy,” Lamb said. “Even if something isn’t successful, you still need to let the organisation know that it wasn’t successful and what you learnt from it.

“We live in a world where people get in trouble from their peers and their boss for taking risks, they are looking for successes all the time because that’s where self-worth comes from.”

Lamb said that over the past 18 months, he has seen many organisations wanting to work with startups and high growth businesses.

“They are plonking people in a co-working space hoping that will fix everything,” he said. “It doesn’t because it’s about a way of working – you can’t just pick people up and move them – there’s still an element from what people get from the governance and the processes, and the risk profile of the organisation.”

He suggested that organisations need to pick off smaller chunks and find an area inside their businesses that is open to change.

“I talk a lot about freeing up capability – space and time – you need to start small. It’s about breaking the mold, doing something innovative and freeing up a team of people one day a week.”


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