Social business : be inspired by startups, really ?

start-upCécile Demailly has written an article on her blog in june, What corporations could learn from startups. There is a long time that I want to write an article about this issue, her article is a good excuse to make it. Even if I share some points with my friend Cécile, I think some points needs to be highlight. I know Cécile Demailly and I had some esteem for her professional abilities and she knows what is involved in organization transformation and the change management required. It’s just to easy to say let’s do it like startups

Now this idea of ​​ »just do it  » is a little simple. Transforming an organization can’t be done with a magic wand and even if a decision is taken at the highest level , it takes time and often in pain (for example with Cisco, for this organization evolution, the CEO John Chambers fired 1/3 of the top management and it has taken several years). So when I read many articles, especially by people who do not know much about enterprise, why big companies do not act like startups, esay as a snap, makes me laught. Not to mention the 2.0 pro who feel that the employees just waiting for that.

In the first place, the myth that startups are necessarily a wonderful world. I’m curious to see who may wish to work without counting the hours hoping for a hypothetical coming of venture capitalist or IPO (where you are young may be more but after…). It is not given to everyone, and  for a success story, how many startups have failed at the same time, a lot. So the way of working and the commitment of the employees in a start up is not for everyone. The human resources management  is particularly important in this type of structure. Employees must go in the same direction as the founder  and the desire to excel on daily basis should be the same.

Then, startups haven’t an organizational model defined, but it is even often where they are the weakest, while this is a major point of development (a real issue when they grow). Numerous startups work in a traditional ways, if not in a conservative manner, and are anything but an innovative model of management and organization. So no, there is not A start-up working model.

But mostly, it takes time to transform an organization (but enterprises which are working on social business projects do not want to hear that or understand), it does not happen overnight (it’s more a marathon than a 100 meters). Indeed, startups starting from scratch and if they wish, they can invent their own model. This is not the case of all organization. As Pascal Picq shows with its triangle adaptations in his book , A paleoanthropologist in enterprise (adapt and innovate to survive ), a company is based on three angles :

  • Processes
  • History
  • Structure

If we can rework  « easily  » the processes, history represents the culture of the company and its identity, and cannot be shaked like that. Similarly, the structure that carries in it the  formal and informal relationships that structure the organization, cannot be ignored. It’s true at all levels of the organization. Make a clean sweep of the past remains a slogan ineffective in this regard. So it takes time, step by step and if possible with all the stakeholders, who do not necessarily have the same vision.

It’s like Gary Hamel’s article in the Harvard Business Review : Let’s fire all the managers who did swoon all the thinkers of 2.0 ( although it works fine and then it doesn’t mean it will work everywhere ). I am excited to see the face of the CEO when we will just explain him that he has just to turn managers who are useless. Besides the fact that the French labor law don’t allow that, the social business message is that new enterprise way incorporates everyone. Schizophrenic ?

So, each company has its history, its culture and this is why we can not make a methodological support just ready to use. Then when we talk  about a  » start-up model  » that something more than vague and can’t be reproduce like that.