Rapid innovation is an important success factor for scale-ups. But it does not mean that scale-ups should create everything from scratch. As a scale-up CEO, you do not need to reinvent the wheel. You can discover and adopt the best practices that have been already used by successful scale-ups before you.
Learn from experts
Learning starts with a question to which you don’t have the answer, e.g., how to structure your contracts with suppliers, or how to inspire a performance culture. You can call a friend. But the last thing you want is to exchange opinions with somebody who knows as much as you. So, you call an expert. You need to sort through lots of information to quickly find what you need. The necessary knowledge might be just one well-chosen Google search away. Some CEOs manage to find time to read through entire books or listen to them while driving. But most of the time you depend on summaries, diagonal scanning of reports and quick phone calls. For this, you can leverage your LinkedIn network and help each other by sharing the contacts of the best expert.
Sometimes, information you are looking for keeps changing, so you constantly need to update it. As one scale-up CEO put it: “Understanding what the industry looks like is quite difficult. I asked a lot of people, but nobody could give me a clear picture of the ecosystem. After hundreds of conversations I completed a puzzle. I have a good map of the territory now. But it is a continuing discovery, because my industry is not static, it is in flux.”
Rapid innovation is an important success factor for scale-ups. But as a scale-up CEO, you do not need to reinvent the wheel.
Recognize your blind spots
Scale-ups often need continuous access to in-depth research and expert opinions. Therefore, they need to bring seniors and experts into the company. But relying on one expert can become your blind spot. Some scale-up CEOs are so focused on product innovation and business development that they forget about everyday processes, such as financial and HR-management. If the only expert with specific operational knowledge leaves, the company can be a trouble. Another typical blindspot of innovative scale-ups is monetization of their current product. They are so focused on developing new features that they consider their existing products not finished or valuable enough to sell. An external coach or advisory board can help scale-up CEOs to recognize their blind spots.
Implement your learning
The final step is to translate your learning into organizational practice, into actions for others to take. You need to select the right people for the new job, inform and train them, define roles and responsibilities, stimulate and monitor their performance. Your company will not scale unless you enable and empower others to do the right thing.
To learn more about innovation and discovery of the best practices, read the full article on learning velocity in scale-ups: