What do you think of when you envision Silicon Valley? Garages filled with young people feverishly coding the next disruption? Exorbitant corporate campuses with free gummies, nap pods and parking lots filled with Teslas? Whatever you picture, chances are these Valley clichés aren’t inclined to make you think of business plans honed for success. But company leaders would do well to remember that the fast culture inherent in Silicon Valley is about more than the next great app -- and it’s applicable to every company. I like to think of this entrepreneurial mindset as “Hack, Deploy, Scale,” a foundation I use at my own company, 140 Proof.
Sure, “Hack, Deploy, Scale” sounds a lot like "jargony" engineer speak. But at its core, it’s simply a summary of the innovation mentality that makes up the startup mindset. In following this strategy, you’ll become a more agile and efficient company, just like the startups in Silicon Valley.
Related: How to Hack Your Team's Productivity
Here is how to get started:
Hack: Break through the business doldrums
Hacking is taking apart a process or a product and putting it back together in a new way to get better or more efficient results. It’s at the core of coding culture, but it’s not only about tech.
Businesses should constantly be pushing themselves to tinker with their company’s code, whether that’s by experimenting with a new pricing scheme, innovating inside your product pipeline or pushing employees to complete routine tasks in new and different ways. For instance, Uber hacked the paid transportation system.
Of course, inherent in any hacking debate is a tussle between speed and quality: the quick win or the elegant solution. Every situation is context dependent. But in this fast-paced startup world, it’s often better to get to market quickly and use feedback from the market to direct your next steps.
Deploy: See what sticks
Once your business has been hacking away at your code and strategy, it’s time to unleash your product to your target audience and see if there’s really a market for what you’re trying to sell. In the tech world, this typically means kicking off a round of beta testing with a select group of users and consumers. But it’s not always that simple -- or easy -- for traditional businesses. Deploying requires that you do the heavy lifting, which often means you, or your salespeople, have to hit the road yourselves. Market testing your product yourself will offer you the best perspective on what’s working, and what you need to change before scaling your company.
Scale: Make it big
One amazing part of making technology products is that the cost to ship to millions is almost identical to the cost of shipping a single unit. Companies with physical distribution needs often face a set of get-to-market challenges that tech doesn't. (In fact, some of the most successful companies are constantly hacking their distribution and manufacturing processes, not to make new products but to make new ways of making products.)
In tech, scaling up requires you to either write the architecture platform or pick the right database to handle the size of the transaction. In the traditional business world, scaling may depend on factors like manufacturing capacity, ability to carry more inventory into distribution to avoid carrying costs and reduce space needs, overseeing supply chains so your process never idles and managing cash flow efficiently, among other processes. The essential thing about scaling is that you must cycle through hack and deploy cycles before you know it’s time to scale.
Whether or not your company resembles the startups in the Valley, there are lessons to be learned from the processes and philosophies that drives the innovation culture embodied by tech. There’s a lot to learn from these nimble companies, and even if a business doesn’t have code in its DNA, “hack, deploy, scale” is always a strategy that will push success inside and outside of the valley.