united we stand

Gary Lawrence Murphy garym@canada.com
10 Apr 2002 21:17:59 -0400

>>>>> "B" == Bill Clark <bill_clark@flashmail.com> writes:

    B> In a message dated Wed, 10 Apr 2002, Grlygrl201@aol.com writes:
    >>> What are you -my therapist? :-)

    B> Hardly! My checking account balance supports this fact :-(
    B> Besdies, such things are best left to the professionals.

EGAD NO! Perish the thought, bite your tongue, read the literature
and most of all, don't get me started on this topic!

(or just start with teledyn.com/fun/CL and take it from there)

    B> IMO, the real key to the long-term success of a business is
    B> keeping and attracting the smartest, most observant/innovative
    B> workers who enjoy to continue to learn and implement key
    B> elements from others' successes--not dwelling or spending too
    B> much time over-thinking/focusing on things. 

Something I might know just a little about ;) ... I was recently at an
alumni party for a famous Canadian internet service; of all those at
the "6 years after" party, only three of us were still working for the
same company as when we'd worked on this project, and two of us worked
for the same company

Ron, Garry and I started pondering why this might be so. We came to
the conclusion that, unlike the others around us who had gone through
long strings of failed flash-pan startups, our companies always had
the same business pattern: We don't move an inch unless a customer
comes to us with requirements and a chequebook.

We'd both toyed with the new-product idea ("Every one else is doing
it!")  but neither of us had ever seriously thought we really knew
better than everyone else enough to bet the farm on creating some
nifty new thing which we'd then spend all our resources peddling. In
both our cases, the only "commodity" on the shelf was ourselves, and
all our "R&D" spent expanding our experience.  In both our situations,
we never intended to work like this when we left the hallowed academia
with the stars in our eyes. Things just turned out that way.

I'm not saying this reactive-mode is the /only/ viable business model;
without gross-risk takers we wouldn't have either Yahoo or Google, but
I wonder if stellar inventors are the exception, not the rule.  I
don't know how many times I have seen truly brilliant collections of
highly engaged professionals go belly up; yes, some do because of bad
management or external forces, but others just go because no one buys
their stuff.  Even those who initially made a go of it eventually
cashed in their technology-driven methods for mundane market-drives.

Innovation may be a really bad business decision: Even habitual
inventors like Bucky Fuller never thought to gain remuneration for
their inventions, they just sought to get the ball rolling, using
other revenue sources to keep them fed -- Bucky had an elaborate
'science' of time-lags between inventions and when one might actually
make a living supporting them.

This got me wondering about the long string of failed startups I've
seen come and go over the past few decades, and especially about the
failed open source startups: Open source is not particularly famous
for taking the requirements of paying others and turning those into
products; the notion is counter to the very philosophy of "code what
you will is the whole of the Law".  A lot of lip service is paid to
concepts like "community" but if a community is a network of services
(my blacksmithing being traded for your carpentry) this might explain
why the OSS dot-bubble fizzed so quickly.

One comment FoRK'ed recently has been bugging me: It's that right-wing
commentator being roasted and the reference on his website that said
"You know why I'm a multi-millionaire? Because multi-millions like
what I do."  He's right.  It's the most depressing news I've heard
this century, but he's absolutely right. He's just doing what I am
doing (Give the customer what they want) only he's got a million
buyers, and I have a dozen. For whatever twisted motivations in his
sad consumer hinterland, he _is_ a community player, doing something
for them, and they in turn, do something for him.  Geez that's an
annoying thought.

Gary Lawrence Murphy <garym@teledyn.com> TeleDynamics Communications Inc
Business Innovations Through Open Source Systems: http://www.teledyn.com
"Computers are useless.  They can only give you answers."(Pablo Picasso)