Reflections on The Startup Way – Part 1

The Startup Way: How Entrepreneurial Management Transforms Culture and  Drives Growth: Ries, Eric: 9780241197264: Books
The Startup Way: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth. By Eric Ries

The Startup Way is a 2017 book by Eric Ries, which is a follow-up to his blockbuster Lean Startup.

In The Startup Way, Ries reveals how entrepreneurial principles can be used by businesses to take advantage of enormous opportunities and overcome challenges resulting from our connected economy.

In this series of posts, I’ll share my key takeaways, and relate those to my own experiences and reflections. Let’s start off by exploring how organisations corner themselves by becoming over-reliant on their successes.

Kodak has become the go-to business case of an organisation that became myopic and over-committed to its past successes.

Ries states that if an organisation is constrained by capacity, they’d typical endeavour to acquire more, in a bid to gain greater market share. Typically new products are mostly variations of existing product lines. Firms compete primarily on price, quality, variety and distribution. Barriers to entry are high, and growth is slow.

In my view, if exploited for too long, what Ries describes can result in dangerous consequences. It can create a difficult-to-reverse dependence on legacy successes. Repeating and scaling an organisation’s previous successes can become its unspoken raison d’etre. In an increasingly fast-moving market, this can be disastrous.

The over-reliance on existing successes also develops an expectation and success criteria that crowds out the emergence of innovation within organisations. This is illustrated in my Operational System vs Entrepreneurial System graphic below.

Organisations scale success by developing a highly tuned operational system. This is often at the detriment to their capacity to innovate.

I believe this ties into Apex Predator Theory developed by Dave Snowden. Organisations will eventually fail as they become competent and too wedded to the current operations and market offerings.

Apex Predator Overlapping S-Curves | AGLX Consulting
Apex Predator Overlapping S-Curves. Illustrated by

In my next post, I’ll reflect upon my next takeaway for The Startup Way, which will be on the missing organisational capability that will enable organisations to overcome their over-dependence on past successes.

Closing the Entrepreneurial Gap


When organisations are often too ponderous to innovate, what proven approaches exist to bridge the internal gap between the opposing needs of entrepreneurialism and operationalism?

This talk will explore emerging approaches that utilise the internal tensions between innovators and conservative communities. We’ll explore the importance of designing for team structures and communication pathways that are driven by cognitive load, social capital and end-to-end value creation.

These approaches create the conditions that will support risk-taking, enable greater agility and increase market competitiveness.


  • The rate of organisational adaptability must be greater than the market’s
  • The barriers to innovation, such as operational culture, stifles the emergence of entrepreneurialism
  • The myths and mistakes organisations make when attempting to create innovation and alignment
  • Utilising the natural tension between traditionalists and entrepreneurs to create lasting innovation
  • Creating end-to-end value using team topologies which considers cognitive load and clear collaboration lines
  • Research and personal stories of how organisations have overcome scepticism and have achieved innovation and greater business agility

Talk format

Duration: Ideally 60 minutes.

It can be delivered remotely or in-person.

Workshop Dates