The other day I was talking to a entrepreneur friend of mine about how to get acquired by a Yahoo! or Google.
This person had noted that they had tried to get in many times to show something they were working on and could not. It wasn’t their technology; I took a look at it and it was pretty cool on its own. But for some reason, Yahoo! and Google just would not give this company some time to present their technology. I noted to this person that it may be a “lost cause”.
By “lost cause” I don’t mean that Yahoo! and Google are lost causes as businesses. What I meant was that it may be a lost cause for the entrepreneur in trying to get air time with the Yahoos and Googles of the world.
What could cause it to be “lost cause”?
I find that there are two reasons for the “lost cause” label. The first being organizational defects, and the second being the people themselves.
Basically, too much work and unaligned goals. Sometimes an org places so much work on an individual where he just can’t think clearly about anything else but what he has to get done now. So all future, innovative stuff goes down in the dumper. He can barely get the stuff he has now done, let alone freeing up brain space to process new stuff.
As for unaligned goals, here is an example. At a major internet company, the goals of a general manager of a business unit were very numbers driven. I make my numbers, I get a raise. I don’t, no raise. Anything that clearly helps me make my numbers gets first priority. Anything else that is unclear in driving towards me making my numbers (hence my goals) is shoved down the priority chain. So you show up with your nice tool, but there are about hundred other things that this GM knows could make his numbers faster in the short term and decides he doesn’t have time to talk to you.
Some people just can’t grasp the big picture. They can’t see broadly where things could fit in. They may be smart, and great operations folks and get lots of things done, but sometimes can’t figure out how to integrate a new thing. This relates to multi-tasking ability, ability to handle information overload, general creativity, and physical/mental/emotional energy. When you’re in a place like a Yahoo! or a Google, you’re running at 1000 MPH. You get the physical/mental/emotional energy sucked out of you, and you can’t multi-task or handle all this information and you are back to just doing what is placed on your desk at that time.
Again, new, innovative stuff just falls off the plate.
The entrepreneur suffers because he could be selling his technology to a prominent company; the company suffers because they may be missing something they should be integrating.
How do we, as a society of businesses, do better?