Most corporate executives would benefit from joining a startup for three or so months to learn and be exposed to the following:
- Being surrounded by builders, not strategists.
- Executing at pace without corporate bureaucracy.
- Seeing the benefits of using modern tools and technology in pratice.
- Experiencing the risk of failure and being allowed to ‘be over their skis’.
- Being obsessed with their customers, not competitors.
- Making decisions (sometimes with inadaquate data) vs. deferring decisions.
- Working without a blueprint or checklist.
I’ve thought about building a company that facilitates this exact model but find gaps I still cannot overcome. For example, I (i) identify one Series B company and one incumbent company; working with the Series B, I (ii) source one specific talent need they have over the next 6’s months, and (iii) match that with an executive from the incumbent company. From there, I (iv) ensure that the two business models don’t overlap (i.e., as there would be worries with IP and idea theft) and facilitate the quarter-long transition. Ensuring that the Series B gets their seasoned SME executive to help on something concrete, that executive would be inoculated to their culture through osmosis – or time in the seat.
Yet are gaps in this model:
- Getting incumbent companies to participate would be difficult, as they would not want to be exposed to:
- Any possibility of idea theft.
- Talent leaving.
- Any leaks to the Series B about their company.
- Getting startups to participate would be difficult, as they would not want to be exposed to:
- Distraction risk when they are already laser focused on producing.
- Lengthy onboarding processes of the execs.
- Idea theft (both ways).
Although, there could be ways to mitigate those mentioned above.
- Only facilitate startup and company matches between non-overlapping industries. For example, financial services and hardware manfacturing, or BioTech and retail serivces.
- Ensure that both parties sign indemnity agreements, and other bi-lateral legal safety nets.
- Target progressive incumbent companies that lack internal innovation labs (as a strong sourcing pipeline) and startups who are hypergrowth (need senior staff but unable to hire quickly enough).
- Ensure that costs are minimal for both startups and indumbents. For example, the executive would recieve this as part of a hybrid sabatical, paying their salary still. For the startup, costs out the door would only be temporary equipment and time.