Ep. 127 - Vanguard & CEC's John Buhl on Lean Startup at Scale
John Buhl spent the last 13 years at Vanguard, innovating at all levels. He loved applying Lean Startup principles at scale and discovering what elements needed to change. Unfortunately, he hit many brick walls and found friction to make changes throughout the organization. The system of annual funding, with specific deliverables, was well entrenched. John wanted to understand, how do you shift a large company to be outcome-oriented and realize that old systems can be detrimental.
Recently, John joined the Corporate Entrepreneur Community, formed by Eric Reis and Steve Liguori. Together they discovered three things: every company has the same problems, innovation is not science yet, and there’s a gap in peer-to-peer corporate community learning.
One obstacle for companies innovating at scale is that companies must change everything while disrupting nothing. John believes companies can succeed with incremental improvements and making it their own. On the team level, companies need to get senior leadership aligned and invested. They also need to have an excellent governance structure, manage change, and have top-down buy-in.
For an individual, pushing against a culture can be risky. Try to align with a leader that allows you to experiment. You’ve got to give the leader evidence that innovation works, in addition to showing them things that didn’t work. Solving tactical barriers such as the budget process and breaking down internal silos, will also generate more speed, flow, and throughput.
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