Case StudyProduct Team: Defining Operating Principles - Disrupting Large Company Culture with Startup Principles

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), a traditional and established media company, faced significant challenges in keeping up with the rapid pace of digital transformation. As new, more agile competitors entered the market, SPH struggled with a slow innovation cycle, bureaucratic decision-making processes, and a culture resistant to change. The company's existing processes and hierarchical structure made it difficult to respond quickly to market changes and consumer demands, threatening its competitive position.

Disrupting Large Company Culture with Startup Principles

The Solution

SPH decided to implement startup principles and methodologies aimed at fostering a culture of innovation and agility. This transformation was led by Gaurav Sachdeva, Chief Product Officer at SPH. The approach focused on several key areas:

  • Establishing Cross-Functional Teams: SPH created small, autonomous teams composed of members from different departments. These cross-functional teams were empowered to make decisions and rapidly iterate on ideas without the usual bureaucratic delays.
  • Lean Startup Methodology: Teams adopted the lean startup approach, emphasizing experimentation and validation through minimum viable products (MVPs). This allowed them to quickly test ideas, gather feedback, and pivot as necessary.
  • Agile Practices: Implementing agile methodologies such as Scrum and Kanban helped teams manage their workflows more efficiently and maintain flexibility in project execution.
  • Focus on Customer Feedback: The teams prioritized direct and continuous feedback from customers to ensure that the solutions being developed addressed real user needs and pain points.
  • Innovation Labs and Hackathons: SPH set up innovation labs and organized hackathons to encourage creative problem-solving and surface new ideas from within the organization.
  • Cultural Change Initiatives: Efforts were made to shift the organizational culture towards one that values experimentation, embraces failure as a learning opportunity, and rewards innovative thinking.

Outcomes achieved

The implementation of these startup principles resulted in significant improvements for SPH:

  • Increased Innovation Speed: The new processes enabled faster development cycles, allowing SPH to bring new products and features to market more quickly.
  • Improved Product-Market Fit: By focusing on customer feedback and validating ideas early, SPH developed solutions that better met the needs of their audience.
  • Enhanced Team Collaboration: Cross-functional teams fostered greater collaboration and broke down silos within the organization, leading to more integrated and cohesive efforts.
  • Cultural Shift: There was a noticeable shift in the company culture towards a more innovative and risk-taking mindset, which has been crucial in driving ongoing transformation.
  • Market Competitiveness: These changes helped SPH to better compete with newer, more agile entrants in the media market, ensuring its relevance in the digital age.

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