Let your talent guide the company like Orion's Belt has been the guidepost for ships exploring the seas.

Unlocking the Power of Rising Stars Instead of Buying StartUps

diversity use case May 05, 2023

Your markets are racing ahead under the influence of tech like Chat GPT, but your organization feels as if it’s stuck in a rut. It's time to bridge the gap between the dynamic external environment and the static internal culture. But how? Let’s explore why your promising talents can help you better than that attractive startup you might want to acquire.

The Case

Once upon a time, a high-tech organization struggled to find the right talent to inject fresh ideas and leadership potential into its workforce. The company had acquired start-ups and scale-ups, but somehow that didn’t help. It soon became apparent that these acquisitions weren't always successful in changing the organizational culture into a more innovative, change-positive one.

When Startups Meet Corporations: The Clash of Cultures

Imagine being a promising startup with a strong entrepreneurial culture and a passion for innovation. You get acquired by a large corporation, hoping to benefit from their resources and support. But soon, you realize that things aren't quite what you expected.

The acquiring company has a very different culture than yours. They are bureaucratic, risk-averse, and hierarchical, while you are agile, risk-taking, and entrepreneurial. Despite your best efforts, you find it challenging to integrate your culture with theirs.

You try to teach them the importance of experimentation, rapid prototyping, and failing fast, but they struggle to understand and appreciate your values and ways of working. They don't seem to share your passion for innovation and change.

You also face internal resistance to change. Employees within the acquiring company are comfortable with the status quo and resist new ideas and working methods. You find it challenging to get the support you need to bring your ideas to life.

So after months of struggle, you leave the company, one dream less but wiser for the experience.

Harnessing the Power of Emerging Talent: An Approach That Works

Then, one day, a consultant (me) introduced the organization to a new approach that had worked well in other industries. This approach involved selecting a team of promising new co-workers to come up with critical challenges the organization may face in the next five years. For six months, the team had access to everyone and every file in the company, and when they came knocking, everyone made time to help them with their knowledge and network.

The team spent one week per month finding those challenges, and their dedication paid off. They succeeded in making their mark on the organization's strategic direction and innovation, becoming the leaders of the future.

The consultant found this approach scalable and effective for organizations of all sizes. For large organizations, ten rising stars could work together for a year, while smaller organizations could work with a team of five for four months. It had worked in the high-tech, chemical, energy, venture capital, insurance, retail, and hospitality industries.

The consultant was passionate about this approach and encouraged the high-tech company to try it. She knew from experience that, by harnessing the potential of its emerging talents, the organization could stay ahead of the curve and create a brighter future.

Stars vs. Startups: The Key Differences in Impact on Organizational Culture

While both startups and new talent can bring valuable new perspectives and ways of working to an organization, there are some key differences in how they can impact organizational culture.

Startups often have a strong entrepreneurial culture that values experimentation, rapid prototyping, and failing fast. While this culture can be highly innovative, it can clash with the culture of a more established organization, which may be more hierarchical and risk-averse. This can make it difficult for startups to integrate with the acquiring organization and drive cultural change.


Another key difference is the level of support startups and rising talent receive within an organization. Startups often struggle to get the resources and support they need to succeed, while promising co-workers are often given the resources, training, and support they need to drive organizational change and innovation.


The Solution

So, the company rallied several new talents and gave them the time, tools, and mandate to scout the organization's possible futures. Six months and lots of eye-openers later, the company wrote a new mission statement. For the first time in its 60-something years of operation, it included the words sustainable and ethical. Go figure!

In summary, while startups and stars can bring valuable new perspectives and ways of working to an organization, the latter is often better equipped to drive cultural change and innovation. HiPo's are more agile and adaptable than startups, often better supported and empowered within the organization. This makes them a valuable asset for organizations looking to stay ahead in today's rapidly changing business environment.

The Step-by-Step

So, do you have a similar program already in place? If not, why not try it and see what kind of potential your HiPo's hold? Let's work together to create a bright future for your organization!

Here’s what you do:

Step 1: Identify your rising stars

  • Look for employees who consistently exceed expectations and demonstrate leadership potential
  • Ask for recommendations from managers and supervisors
  • Consider performance reviews and past achievements

Step 2: Form a team

  • Choose a diverse group of rising stars from different departments and backgrounds
  • Make sure the team has a mix of skills, experience, and personalities
  • Ensure that the team is balanced in terms of gender, race, and other factors to promote inclusivity

Step 3: Take care of the conditions required for their work

  • Provide the team with access to company data, customer feedback, and research reports
  • Allow them to use tools and software that can help with data analysis, brainstorming, and collaboration
  • Give them the freedom and time to explore and analyze the information they gather
  • Inform the organization about the team, tell everyone to make time (one week per month max), and help them whenever the team asks for information.
  • Set a time limit on the project (5 - 12 months).

Step 4: Define the team's aim, goals, scope, and mandate

  • The team’s purpose is to identify new opportunities for growth and change
  • Define the team's goal as identifying seven critical challenges the organization may face in the next five years and turning these challenges into opportunities.
  • Clarify the scope of their work: decide beforehand if the team should focus solely on the current industry/market or include closely related industries/markets and emerging industries/markets.
  • Tell them they are mandated to ask for information and insights from anyone in and outside the company but that they keep sensitive information private and don’t commit the company in any way.

Step 5: Provide support and guidance

  • Schedule regular check-ins and feedback sessions with the team
  • Offer mentorship and guidance from senior leaders within the organization

Well Done

Congratulations on learning about the importance of foresight and strategic planning in today's rapidly changing business environment. By staying informed and prepared for what's to come, you are already on your way to creating a more successful and resilient organization. Keep up the great work!

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