Should large companies even try to be like startups?

This post is still very much a work in progress. Since the industrial revolution, if you were interested in a career in technology, large companies were really the place to be. Apart from the perks that come with working for a blue-chip company, the scale, breadth and depth of resources available to you meant that they had a virtual monopoly on innovation. However, over the past ten years, this changed. In many industries, scale stopped being an advantage. It slowly, imperceptibly at first, … Read more…

From the front line to the development team

We have already seen in a previous post how military history can provide valuable lessons for today’s business leaders. The Economist magazine provides a more contemporary application of how lessons learnt on the front line have applicability in the business world. Stanley McChrystal used to lead the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq which captured Saddam Hussein and killed al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq. He now runs a consultancy company advising companies on decision-making. His mantra is to devolve decision making to teams of … Read more…

Speed at Scale – the fast supertanker?

In a previous post, I explored the importance of adaptability in large organisations, a concept I referred to quite unoriginally as Strategic Agility. I hope I was quite persuasive about the importance of being able to change direction quickly to even large and very successful organisations. The task of operating large organisations at speed is a topic that John P Kotter is making his own, in his book and Harvard Business review article – Accelerate! Kotter argues, quite convincingly, that the hierarchical structures and organisational setups that … Read more…

Why history matters. Even to tech leaders

When looking at the challenges that the fast-moving tech landscape throws up, it is often tempting to think that these problems are new to the 21st century and consequently need completely novel approaches. While the mechanics, business process and technologies may well be new, the underlying problem is very likely to be one that has been around for centuries. Just as the Roman Republic can provide a casebook of the entire gamut of political mechanations and intrigue, similarly, history books can provide invaluable advice on … Read more…

The importance of Strategic Agility

With agile software methodologies now firmly in the mainstream, it is difficult to find a software development organisation that does not claim to follow agile principles to at least some extent. For this reason, much of the discussion in agile and lean development conferences is now shifting to its applicability in the wider business world. In this post, I have a look at some of the business challenges that can be addressed through adopting strategic agility, and make some suggestions that may help … Read more…