In the face of dramatic market shifts and uncertainty, continuing to adapt and learn quickly have become top priorities for Bigcos wishing to remain relevant. Smaller, growth mindset-driven Startups are creating disruptive value propositions and are able to adjust to changing market conditions much quicker than their fixed mindset Bigco counterparts. Sensing a need to shift, corporate leaders are starting to leverage approaches like Lean Startup and Design Sprints to efficiently pursue disruptive opportunities, but aren’t fully maximizing those approaches because of a lack of hustle. That is, fully embracing the key entrepreneurial skills and mindsets required to truly activate the power of Lean Innovation capability within their organizations.

Hustle is at the core of who we are at The Garage Group. With our Startup-inspired mission, we work to maximize the efforts of every part of our team in order to drive better and more effective results. In our Hustle Handbook, we outline the five behaviors that are critical to innovate, disrupt, and make progress in the face of uncertainty:

1. Relentlessly Pursue the “Why”
Companies, ideas, and initiatives all start with a vision for the future, and yet, many businesses have a difficult time clearly articulating their purpose. Figuring out the “why” behind what you do far outweighs the importance of the “what” or the “how”. Simon Sinek, author of best-selling book “Start With Why”, is an avid believer in the “why” of a process much more than the process itself. In his book, he explains “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Aligning your company on its purpose and mission decreases dissonance within the organization, and allows ideas and projects to move forward faster. Sinek references powerful examples like Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership in the Civil Rights movement and Apple’s commitment to challenge the status quo and produce innovative products to demonstrate the importance of understanding why you exist and why you get out of bed every morning. For many entrepreneurs, the “why” of their business often aligns with their personal goals and passions, creating momentum to drive action within their Startup. Knowing the “why” of your company gives vision, and with vision comes focus, resilience, and influence–three key factors to success. For Bigco leaders, identifying your “why” and connecting it to your work often times is the missing link to having the courage to take a risk on a new approach or to have the grit to stick with a challenging project even after facing some adversity.

2. Squeeze the Juice out of your Resources
Startups are almost always facing a resource constraint, whether it is time, money, or people. Because of this, success comes from teams who optimize all of their resources, squeezing the juice out of them. Bigco leaders generally have resources at their disposal, but don’t always see them or fully utilize them. To open your mind to resource possibilities, we encourage you to search across three primary areas from which you can squeeze the juice– your own strengths, your network, and any physical assets available at your disposal. This can manifest in an infinite number of ways, from engaging your network to quick, scrappy consumer testing on a product idea. Leaders expand their influence and access when they leverage their resources effectively by not only asking “What can I get?” but also “What can I give?” Bigcos have a unique opportunity in this space, with a vast resource pool to draw from. By squeezing the juice out of your resources, you are engaging in the full potential of yourself as well as your company.

3. Embrace the Growth Mindset
There are two kinds of mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset says that my abilities are fixed and my value is based on my ability to do well against those skills. A growth mindset says that my abilities are malleable, with my value being placed on working hard and continuing to grow. Leaders who hustle are those who continue to push, try, and (inevitably) fail in pursuit of a growth mindset. Centered around an individual’s willingness to fail, a growth mindset fosters resilience; it arms you with the grit to tackle tough challenges, and find success. While entrepreneurs tend to embody the growth mindset more than most, it is not an exclusive commodity. The beauty of the growth mindset is that you are not born with or without it, but instead can train it like a muscle by constantly pushing yourself–and your company–to learn, try, and do new things. Encouraging a growth mindset can be as simple as reading an interesting article, or listening to a podcast. Ideas can come from unexpected places; a growth mindset is simply the vehicle that gets you to those places.

4. Showcase Agility
Agility is a key element of staying with and getting in front of changing market conditions. Startups can and will pivot their businesses on-demand to capitalize on opportunities. Too often, we see Bigcos who are reluctant to adjust to changing markets or new information, and struggle to act on opportunities quickly. Companies that critically assess their current position against their future opportunities can rapidly make decisions in order to pursue their vision. Asking questions like “Are we actually talking to the right people?” or “Given this situation, what has to be true to move forward?” can help a company to be proactive instead of reactive, allowing for a critical pivot before it’s too late. Due to a constantly evolving landscape, even the best-laid plans must be modified as time goes on. By being receptive and open to that change, Bigcos and Startups alike can put themselves in the optimum position for success.

5. Operate with Urgency
Having the drive to push your business forward each and every day is one of the key factors when operating with urgency. Urgency is the motivation each day to stay on top and to respond quickly when you get knocked down. Steve Case, founder of AOL, showcases the importance of urgency when referring to the first wave of internet adoption. Microsoft had just released MSN, a direct competitor to AOL, and was the first company to offer unlimited services for a flat fee, undercutting AOL’s prices. Case, knowing that time was of the essence, convinced his team to work through the weekend so that the following Monday, AOL could announce its own updated pricing. In doing so, AOL was able to avoid MSN taking a large chunk of their customers while simultaneously opening the door for a new revenue source–online advertising. Operating with urgency enables Bigcos to avoid getting left behind, as well as capitalize on new, momentary opportunities.

In this fast-paced world, the ability to hustle is crucial to adapting on-demand. Thinking and working like an entrepreneur encourages exciting ideas, innovation, and progress, no matter the size of the company. For more on our Hustle Handbook, reach out! We’ve love to learn more about your current challenges and take your team through an in-depth training session on the Hustle Handbook.

We are ecstatic to welcome our newest Associate Innovation and Growth Strategist Danielle Koval. She brings 5+ years of experience in marketing, branding, and relationship management across multiple categories. Her creative and strategic background lends itself as an integral asset to the entrepreneurial culture and growth at The Garage Group. Welcome to the team, Danielle!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and despite moving to Cincinnati over nine years ago, I am still a loyal Cleveland sports enthusiast. (If you ever watch a Cavs game with Danielle, you’ll know what she’s talking about!) I went to the University of Cincinnati where I received my Bachelors of Fine Arts at the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and my Masters of Business Administration at the Lindner College of Business. I met my fiancé at UC and we are huge bearcats fans. I love to run, hike, read, and try new restaurants.

What’s something interesting people might not know about you?
I’ve been pictured in ESPN Magazine… but not for my mad sports skills. When I was an intern at Channel 9 News in Cincinnati, I covered the UC vs Xavier Crosstown Shootout basketball game when the “brawl” broke out and ended up being center court with Kenny Frease after he got punched in the face.

So, you jumped into The Garage Group. What made you decide to join us?
The people. The energy, positive attitudes, and encouragement everyone exhibits is something I’ve never seen before. The first time I walked into The Garage Group office I could feel the positive energy instantly. The team has a great positive attitude and is extremely motivated, which extends into the work and to the clients; it’s contagious and great to be a part of!

What does an “entrepreneurial approach to research and innovation” mean to you?
To me, it means moving quickly and iteratively, which extends to allowing yourself to fail. As an entrepreneur I feel you need to be be able to move quickly and understand where opportunities exist, move forward on those opportunities, and then test quickly, but be okay when the test fails or you get feedback that you weren’t expecting and knowing how to adjust and move forward.

What trends do you see in marketing, branding, or innovation at large companies that lend well to a more entrepreneurial approach?
The biggest trends I’m seeing right now are the pace that companies/brands are able to go to market and the magnitude of disruption they are bringing to the marketplace. Large companies need to be more scrappy and nimble when it comes to innovating and launching new products and services. The ability to quickly, and to iteratively innovate will be key moving forward.

What’s inspiring you right now?
The evolution happening with branding. Branding has always been a hot topic and it’s getting even more interesting with the rise of private labels and even small startups like Brandless. It’s inspiring to see people and companies go out on a limb and start to shake up the traditional ways of how things have been done.

Tell me two truths and a lie about yourself.
I love to snowboard
Penguins are my favorite animal
I don’t like seafood

Steve Case stopped by Cintrifuse (our startup hub in Cincinnati) for a quick chat with Cintrifuse CEO, Wendy Lea and the #StartupCincy community. Start the video at 6:15 for an insightful interview with Steve on everything from the state of entrepreneurship and venture capital in the midwest to his take on Bigcos needing Startups and strong networks around them to increase their odds of survival.

A Conversation with Steve Case

Steve Case is here. Listen in!

Posted by Cintrifuse on Wednesday, July 12, 2017

We’re thrilled to introduce Jessica Clark, our newest Project Manager! Jessica brings a passion for insights and our mission at The Garage Group, along with a variety of project management, market research, and strategic analysis capabilities, gained from her time at Macy’s and FITCH. Welcome, Jessica!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Cincinnati, and graduated from University of Dayton, with a major in Management and a minor in Marketing. I began my career as a paralegal, writing briefs and developing research for a variety of cases. I briefly looked into law school before realizing that while enjoying the research aspect, the collaborative and creative parts of the job were missing. This led me to Macy’s as a Project Manager in the marketing department where I created and implemented strategy for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. I then moved to Columbus, Ohio to work at FITCH as a strategy analyst where I primarily focused on trends, research, and consumer behavior.

What drives me is my passion in gaining insight into human behavior and why people do what they do, it fascinates me!

So, you jumped into The Garage Group. What made you decide to join us?
I would say it’s a compilation of the values, culture and passion for the work. I feel when threaded within one another, it creates a solid foundation, allowing for a stronger team and ultimately better work. This is the type of team, environment, and mission I wanted to be part of!

What trends do you see in marketing, branding, or innovation at large companies that lend well to a more entrepreneurial approach?
Intrapreneurship, while still in its infancy, is a great way for employees to bring an entrepreneurial mindset to organizations. When adapted properly, it enables companies to better compete in a dynamic environment, retain younger employees, and operate more efficiently and effectively. The, “this is how it’s always been done” culture will not be successful in the ultra competitive, faster moving world. This is the new landscape, and I look forward to being a part of how it plays out.

What does an “entrepreneurial approach to research and innovation” mean to you?
Quickly test, learn and repeat until the solution to an unresolved tension has been met, while maintaining the consumers’ needs at the heart of all decisions. I feel this is best accomplished by driven people who are willing to unhinge traditional boundaries and fuel new ideas.

What’s inspiring you right now?
The continued DIY movement best illustrates what is inspiring me presently. I love seeing people empowered to chase their dreams and ambitions regardless of how small or grand, and irrespective of what notions of success are to others.

What’s your favorite innovation that’s come out in the past year?
Snapchat Spectacles. No longer purely a social media brand, Snap came out with a tangible product, lending itself as a way to extend the brand. It isn’t purely the innovation of Spectacles, but the all encompassing strategy of repositioning the brand, while maintaining its foundational mission of self-expression and communication.

What is something you believe that almost nobody agrees with you on?
1. Autumn is the best season of the year (yes, even though it is followed by winter!)
2. Reese Cup mixed with Sprinkles is the best Blizzard at DQ, hands down!

Tell me two truths and a lie about yourself.

I enjoy running, reading and trying new activities or food (skateboarding, rock climbing…!). I’m always up for any new adventure!

Traditionally, Bigcos have been great at executing known strategies, while Startups have been masters at searching for ways to add value in turbulent, uncertain situations. With the turbulence and uncertainty currently facing most well-established categories, it’s critical more than ever that Bigcos build strong capability around searching for new ways to add value, or risk survival.

Our mission at The Garage Group is to help well established organizations to innovate and grow like startups. We build custom, Lean Innovation programs that employ tried and true approaches like Design Thinking and Jobs to be Done, along with new tools, skills, and methodologies like Lean Startup and GV’s Sprint approach, all backed by entrepreneurial competencies. We’re able to democratize approaches traditionally held in small innovation groups and make them accessible to corporate leaders across the business to find new sources of growth, well beyond their established business and operating models.

We recently employed these approaches with an iconic, F100 client that was facing a Disruptive Innovation Strategy challenge. Condensing a year-long process into a five-week sprint, we led them to deeply search against five divergent, world-changing trend spaces, and provide solid guidance and a strong runway for their new-to-the-company innovation strategy. Check out the case story on our approach.