Friday, 18 April 2014

Thoughts for startups (no. 6)

"Nine-tenths of tactic were certain enough to be teachable in schools; but the irrational tenth was like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and in it lay the test of generals."
 T.E.Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

A quote from that Lawrence, from his book that became the basis of the film Lawrence of Arabia. This is as true now in a business context as it was then and now in military campaigns.

You can't teach that vision element of strategy; an MBA can give knowledge that helps prevent mistakes, to understand laws and financial accounts, and provide tools to help you analyse how the organisation or a team or a product line are performing, and how that performance might be improved; so much can be taught in an MBA. Maybe a good MBA can help you to execute

But what can be taught is Lawrence's nine-tenths; but you need the vision, the deep inner understanding of your company's strengths and weaknesses, of what your product will become, of your market, the future. You need the irrational tenth

Friday, 11 April 2014

Thoughts for startups (no. 5)

There's a fairy tale, made famous by being included in a Brothers Grimm collection, called The Brave Little Tailor. A very, very short version goes like this:

There was a little tailor and the flies are bothering him. He strikes out and kills 7 with one blow. Impressed with himself he makes a belt inscribed with this achievement

"killed 7 with one blow"

He encounters a giant who, assuming the claim on the belt means men, challenges him to a competition of strength. The giant squeezes a drop or two of water from a stone; the tailor squeezes a rock (a cheese) and gets more drops of whey; the giant throws a rock a long distance, the tailor throws a rock (a bird) which disappears into the distance, etc..

Various other things happen and eventually he beats some giants who are terrorising a kingdom and gets half the kingdom in return.

The appearance of a great achievement becomes a great achievement, once the tailor is given a chance. But right at the beginning it all depends on him presenting his achievements to date in the best possible light. Let's call this his traction...