Before we address the finer points of this topic, the answer to the question posed by this article is a resounding ‘no’.
Why would successful, yet traditional companies want to think like a start-up anyway? Only 10% of them make it any real capacity, and decidedly fewer - .00006% - make it to Unicorn status.
The term ‘start-up’ - however - is now used to describe a young company which profits from a flat organisational structure, extensive team working and an open-stance to new technology. As a term, it’s used in an idealised sense, often to go against the picture painted of more established companies, working in more traditional industries.
These companies - often bureaucratic by nature, and entrenched with vested interests which make their structure’s fundamentally flawed - are the 250 pound heavyweight boxers, sluggishly throwing punches without aim, while start-ups - à la Floyd Mayweather - run round the ring, quickly and efficiently beating their opponents one punch at a time.
This is a good way of looking at it, because like those two boxing styles, traditional and start-up companies can learn from one another. Most companies which turnover billions of dollars won’t have been at the start-up phase for decades and therefore will never have experienced the impact that technology now has on that stage of the lifecycle. Some multinationals - like Google - through their ‘Labs’ have created pockets within their organisation which act as start-ups within Google’s main structure. They concentrate on working on Google’s more extreme projects, and promote experimentation. Mastercard, the company which pioneered contactless payment, also has a Lab in place.
Relative to the companies they are associated with, these labs operate with a small amount of people, and in that sense, replicate the actions of a start-up. Most companies, however, don’t have either the resources, or the need, to start up a labs system. They can, however, adopt a leaner approach to team working, where problems are faced with more freedom and autonomy.
There is also plenty start-ups can learn from traditional companies. Like the methods they use to establish a functioning business-model, or even how they’ve gone about implementing better HR practices. Yet a company with thousands of staff members can’t have the exact mentality of a start-up with a team of five, it’s just impossible.
Large companies - and not just through the installation of fancy offices - can learn from start-ups, especially when it comes to team working. But the start-up mentality, in its entirety, cannot be used by everyone.