I’ve been lucky in the last few years to have had the opportunity to explore the world of technology startups, first in my short and somewhat underwhelming stint at Microsoft, and more recently through organisations like Digital Catapult and L Marks.

There’s a whole industry today that worships the idea of the startup, and encourages established businesses to act like one. It’s largely nonsense – the vast majority of startups fail, and the idea that you can take lessons from the successful is a massive exercise in survivorship bias. The world of startup works because of the massive rates of failure and established organisations just aren’t geared that way.

There’s much to be learned from engaging with the world of startups, though. About innovation and agility and fleet of foot and cutting back on bullshit. And accelerator programmes and their ilk offer big organisations that opportunity to learn. Those that are the most successful, from my perspective, are those that invest as a modern day learning and development exercise and see any actual working technology out of the end as a bonus but not to be expected. That, unfortunately is not usually the case which brings me back to my point about the nonsense it is for an established organisation to think it’s like a startup.


I’ve recently launched Stamp London’s first physical product – a set of playing cards called CIO Priorities. You can find out more about them here, and order a set for yourself here (or simply download the PDF and print them out).

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