Peter Thiel was a co-founder of PayPal and the first outside investor in Facebook. When he offers insights on how big companies can be more like startups, it’s worth listening.
His observation is that companies can be innovative and agile when they are led by founders or a person who is as close to a founder as possible. He goes on to observe that “founders are often able to make more choices and take more risk and have more inspiration than more politically minded CEOs.”
So, what does this mean to you as a leader in your organization? Let’s focus on his characterization as close to a founder as possible. Well, first off what are the traits of a founder? There is no on uniform template, but in general founders tend to be visionaries. They need to comfortable taking risks and have a reasonable amount of courage to do so.
So, will your people be more innovative and take more initiative if they exhibit these traits? Yes, very likely. Should you work to make them more comfortable taking risks like founders do, though likely not on the same scale? Yes.
I talk at length in my books, presentations, coaching, posts, etc. about the need to create an organizational culture that encourages and rewards intelligent well-executed risks. As you do this in your organization, it may help you to think in terms of creating a setting where you people are given the permission to think a bit like founders.
The interview referenced in this post is accessible at: http://online.wsj.com/articles/peter-thiel-on-why-big-companies-dont-think-like-startups-1414962990