Similar Posts


  1. Transcript

    Accept the fact that you’re going to waste some time.

    That’s some advice I give to young people starting businesses; you’re going to waste time and you’re going to waste money. I mean that in the sense that some things you do, you’re going to have to do over. In our company, we often will start on something, get a certain way down the path and realise “you know, we really don’t want to do that in Ruby, we’re going to start over”. What you hope is that you don’t get too far down the path before you decide you have to start over, but it’s inevitable. I think sometimes larger companies – that’s why I said yesterday I was so impressed that IBM had actually written that article on Just In Time Design – larger companies often are so risk averse, in the sense of “we don’t want to ever have to throw anything away that we did”, that they’ll spend an inordinate amount of time planning something out so they don’t have to justify that we spent all this money on something we never used.

    In our case, we’ll go ahead, we’ll try it; if it doesn’t work then we quit doing it. If it does work then we do some more of it. Whether it’s paying somebody to do a logo, if it’s doing 2D programming and then saying we need a combination of 2D and 3D, if it’s creating one model for a teepee and saying “it’s too cartoonish” and throwing it out. You often don’t know those things in advance and you just need to accept that as you progress you’re going to realise that some of what you do initially doesn’t fit any more. And that’s just the way it is.

  2. I think the modern day buzzword for this notion is “pivoting”.

    This is a key advantage of small business: the ability to rapidly change / adapt faster than the big boys. We aren’t as plagued with process or formalities (or “escalation of commitment” to use an OB term).

    While big companies have more financial resources, SBs have more “pivoting” ability, which is a huge resource. I’ve also found it to be a huge advantage that employees wear many hats in a SB and seem to care much more about the big picture … seeing the forest for the trees if you will, vs. the typical “that’s not my job” mindset of a big corp worker.

    37signals is a great company to study. They’ve purposely kept employee count as small as possible. I recommend the book “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (the later of which is the inventor of Ruby on Rails).

  3. Thank you, Phil, for the transcript. I’m going to have someone type the next one for me (stealing your idea) because I need to put it up for a student.

    Thanks, Clint for the book suggestion. I’ll read it when I take off next week.

  4. To entice you a little more, here’s an excerpt from “Rework”:

    “A lot of people get off on solving problems with complicated solutions. Flexing your intellectual muscles can be intoxicating. Then you start looking for another big challenge that gives you that same rush, regardless of whether it’s a good idea or not.

    A better idea: Find a judo solution, one that delivers maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Judo solutions are all about getting the most out of doing the least.

    Whenever you face an obstacle, look for a way to judo it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *