This happens in all organizations but is quicker to be fatal in a start up than a bigger organization just like a Cobra biting, say a Dingo; compared to an elephant. And for those of you who might write me to say that a Dingo would not be found in the same place as a cobra, well, it’s fun to say dingo. However, I have presented at conferences where the main component was the introduction of new software; the company was Autodesk and the software was Revit. When it came time for the Autodesk Revit folk to present, they immediately threw Autocad under the bus saying Revit was the future and you were a dope if you did not adopt it. Never mind that almost the entire room was filled with Autocad users that had made large investments in software and workflows around Autocad but essentially they were calling them idiots. Instead of showing them a migration path to the new stuff, success stories, improved work flows, the presentation was feature driven and how Revit kicks ass. As a consumer of the software instead of thinking wow BIM is the future and the future is Revit. I might come out and say BIM is the future, these guys are jackweeds and now is the time to look at all my BIM options.
From a start up perspective, this is deadly. If you are trying to get people to adopt new software and create new works flows around it calling someone a dope in words, deeds or attitude is like putting five in the chamber before spinning. To illustrate here is the basic example which happened recently. The start up is getting a bit of traction, some pilots are coming on line and they take that small amount of validation as confirmation of their business plan, software, work… inevitability and the ego starts to inflate. Listen, getting any amount of validation when you are a start up is awesome, you are usually working in a closet with the sheer belief in yourself as fuel so enjoy it but generally it means you now need to double down on your work because a new round of expectations. However, I continue to see “wow we were right all along, here it comes.” So through this conversation I heard “this guy is an idiot he does not understand what we are trying to do.” Okay but this guy is the one who is managing the pilot and he was probably put in charge because he is skeptical and really needs to be ‘wowed’ if you hope to attain any more traction rather that treating him like an idiot because you and your widget is inevitable. The founding team switches gears from gathering key advisors, creating consensus, etc. to treating people like sub-contractors such as, you want to get on the bus you can take it or leave it but we need your input by tomorrow or we’re moving on.’ So now it feels like they are selling used cars,” offer is good today”, “you want the undercoating?” and the things that got them to that stage start getting dropped because now they feel like they deserve it. And work and information that use to flow to them because of their eagerness to learn starts to dry up. I have seen this happen multiple times and the next stage is, okay how about for your work and effort I will give you piece of my ego filled balloon and at this point, most of the time, it is too late. They have burned through their initial contacts, industry experts, etc. and now they believe, wrongly, that a piece of the pie will motivate/re-motivate people when in fact that equity piece if sincere should have been offered up front to engage and motivate not as a life raft from the sinking ship.
Compare this to a recent post from Andrew Chen, “Why you always think your product is shit.” Which I thought was a great post and you should make the jump but the crux of it is, if you really care about what you are creating, you will never be satisfied because it can always do more; be more. He uses a trip to and anecdotes from Pixar to make his point. How many of you who have seen a Pixar movie ever seen a technological flaw in the process? Not me, it’s always been magic. From Andrew’s post, quoting Matt Silas of Pixar about the movies, “ … when you are watching the movie, you can see all the flaws, and it isn’t until you see the faces of your friends and family that you start to forget them.” That’s what you work for, that’s what drives you, you believe your work can be transformative, you are not “The” shit, you are because you give a shit, you care, you wants things to be better. You’re an artist, you’re an entrepreneur.