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How to Think Like a Startup - Keynote at IBM's Symposium

How to Think Like a Startup - Keynote at IBM's Symposium
What's new: K-Startup Grand Challenge 2020 for Australian/New Zealand Startups! More information here.

I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at IBM’s annual A/NZ Partner Symposium at Luna Park in Sydney yesterday where the hot topics of innovation, disruption, transformation and startup agility were central to the day’s discussions. 

Some of the executive team getting the day started

The crowd of more than 350 IBM partners assembled to hear from the likes of IBM executives such as Rhody Burton and Kerry Purcell. They touched on critical topics affecting the distributors, systems integrators and the ICT industry as a whole such as cloud adoption and the need to challenge the status quo in order to keep pace with the rapid change facing the technological landscape.

A full house at Luna Park

I was lucky enough to be given the limelight to deliver a keynote on ‘how to think like a startup’, given that many of the challenges facing larger, established players in ICT centre around the inability to move quickly due to processes, legacy systems, resources and values that have been established to keep their businesses ticking over like a well oiled machine.

Decided to take a selfie before my keynote. This iteration failed. 

But what happens when that well oiled machine is going down one track and the rest of the world is going down another track?

According to Deloitte, 65% of the Australian economy faces significant disruption and larger, established organisations need to become more adept at exploring new business models, while keeping their core business going as long as possible. After all, that's where the money is initiatives I touched on that larger organisations can begin to explore to embrace startup agility and thinking include:  

  • Create an independent organisation with its own processes, values and resources
  • Train the troops in innovation theory and philosophies such as the lean startup
  • Encourage taking lots of small bets as opposed to few large one
  • Stop trying to sell existing customers new innovations. Instead, look for new segments who can benefit from early iterations.
  • Consider reconfiguring existing processes and policies to support getting to “yes” for innovation projects (note: only do so without compromising core operations)
  • Partner with or invest in disruptive companies
  • Engage in open innovation campaigns by collaborating with outsiders to solve internal problem
  • Adopt a portfolio mindset. Venture capitalists invest in 10 companies expecting 1 to succeed. Why should it be any different for enterprise investments?
  • Run idea contests to stimulate not just ideas but increase employee ownership and engagement
  • Filter winning ideas into hackathons and corporate accelerator programs

We need to do more than just talk about innovation but create an environment under which innovation can truly flourish. The alignment of processes, values, systems and resources is critical to this.


Here at Collective Campus, we help companies run idea contests, hackathons and incubate innovation teams in an immersive environment, surrounded by tech startups, where they embrace startup thinking and receive ongoing mentorship and guidance to move quickly, build prototypes and fast track customer validation in a safe to fail environment, free from the corporate bureaucracy.To find out more about how we can help achieve your innovation goals, get in touch!

Workflow Podcast

The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.

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To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.

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Unlock new opportunities and markets by taking your brand into the brave new world.

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Steve Glaveski

Steve Glaveski is the co-founder of Collective Campus, author of Time Rich, Employee to Entrepreneur and host of the Future Squared podcast. He’s a chronic autodidact, and he’s into everything from 80s metal and high-intensity workouts to attempting to surf and do standup comedy.

Ask me a question!