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Coming from a pitch which I visited as an observer I was again reminded how deeply different a start-up is from the traditional company. Also, or thus, changing to a start-up like environment is very much a change in attitude. Attitude toward the visible offering on one hand but also and more eminently a shift in attitude toward possession, competition, revenue generation… Having said that, I would continue by stating that it is the very core in understanding. Understanding from a personal and business perspective.

What differences do we see in argument?

The business perspective: Revenue streams are product oriented, based on features vs. revenue streams if product related, are based on user experience. This alone means that all those putting all their energy into the final percentages to get a 100% product are run over by those who focus on the customer journey and experience. Those who centre the service around sales of their products are run over by those who centre their service on intelligent algorithms for the customer usability and for who the product is just one component that you can make yourself or source depending on the entire business model.

As an example. Sensors. Company ‘A’ produces them. Seeing that sales of sensors alone limits them in growth they build a service around the sensors by which they can be connected and data is collected centrally. They observed some newcomers on the market selling such services and think they, as a big player and owner of the technology, can do better. To be flexible they make a hugely configurable interface for data gathering and output which the try to sell to the customers as a door opener for the sales of sensors.
Company ‘B’ designs software that intelligently utilises data from sensors for very focussed use cases. They develop business models with the customer or customers customer experience in focus for a vast variety of use cases. They sell the business cases and the customer experience. The sensors are either already in the field and just need their intelligence or are sourced from the best vendor.

The personal perspective: A personality shift is even more challenging. Does knowledge belong to someone in particular, or is it to be shared for the good of all? Do I share resources, or do I need to possess them and keep them to myself? Do I always think in immediate returns from investments, or am I able to think around the corner? Am I afraid of my competition, or do I see them as drivers or even as partners? Am I afraid of being copied and invest a lot in patenting, or am I just better and a step ahead? There are many more questions that bring up the core cultural differences.

The change you need or want it should be considered carefully. The purpose needs to fit your own state of mind and attitude. If you, as a leader, do not relate to the start-up culture, then it is more prudent to redefine the purpose and check which approach is the best fitting.

Whatever you chose one truth remains – it is about culture.