Mention the term startup and your audience will probably be shepherded into a mental frame of mind that has visions of garages or hubs filled with recent graduates or better still dropouts hacking and building services that they hope will be their pass to the cover of their local edition of Forbes or at the very least a featured post in a leading technology blog. You cannot blame one for taking a default line of thought fueled by a global buzz.
Every company is a technology company and innovation around tech; its use, abuse, change, optimization and adaptation is what makes for competitive advantage. This coupled by the fact that barriers to entry have been lowered across the board; from access to capital, seeding markets and even internationalization; should quickly dispel the singular train of thought mentioned earlier.
To borrow from Steve Blanks take on what a startup is – “an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. Often with quick iterations to test hypotheses about business models” you begin to see why it is important to retain the startup mindset, more so agility, whether you are just starting out or have been around the block a couple of times and are a household name.
The agile manifesto while originally created to guide the process of software development has applications across the whole body of business. Assimilation of the ten principles, adapted for the different segments of any technology business will ensure that you are playing for the long term. The core focus is on four pillars: people, product, customers and change; things which may get lost or suffer relegated focus as any company grows. We can draw numerous lessons on this locally, with Safaricom being the most visible poster child for growing back into a startup mindset with the most recent senior level executive purge and refresh, the rapid retreat and rework its data bundle service offering and the creation of business units and teams with regional focus in its bid to be a better fit for its consumers.
Startup is a mindset, it is about getting from zero to sixty in the shortest time possible and agility fed by the right data is at the heart of it.