Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Generally, most successful companies are formed on doing something different and often revolutionary. It’s a very difficult and arduous task to form a new company. It’s even more difficult to found a successful company. The most successful companies out there, especially in the IT industry, were founded on revolutionary thoughts. The leadership within these companies was singular in their purpose of doing something different, something provocative and something revolutionary. These leaders wanted to change the world.
In order to be successful these leaders had to have the passion and drive to convince everyone around them that they were on the right track. They had to fight the status-quo and articulate a vision that others were willing to follow. The successful ones had to fight tooth-and-nail to make sure everything worked appropriately. It was never enough to have a good product, that good product had to be combined with business savvy, insight and fearlessness.
Once successful, the enterprise becomes too large for any one individual to drive and control. The leaders need to bring in others. Here’s where the trouble begins. Does the leadership that has created a successful franchise instill the same sense of purpose and mission in the new employees or do they, instead, bring in functional personnel.
At some point, though, there is a critical mass that is reached where it is no longer possible to instill the same sense of purpose and mission. They no longer have a choice and they can only bring in purely functional personnel.
For the new employee their mission is no longer to change the world with a new software product or model, their mission is to collect license fees. Someone else’s mission is license enforcement and someone else’s is to explain why licenses are important. It is likely that no one remembers the reason the licenses were initially created or the reason the business came into existence or the revolution the original leader was fomenting.
Ultimately, the leader steps aside and the second generation takes over. At this point the enterprise is truly in trouble. There is no institutional passion driving sound business objectives because the business objectives are divorced from the original mission. The business objectives are disembodied activities headed by individuals with ridiculous titles such as Chief of Licensing or Director of Pricing.
These rogue coalitions are doomed to failure. Without the passion, drive and direction the individuals become nameless, faceless drones enforcing licenses for which the individual has no context in which to understand their own, broader purpose.
How can such a company survive? A company that enforces licensing terms because they’ve always enforced such terms, not because they make any sense, is a company doomed.
When the sum of the parts doesn’t equal the original mission the company can either fail or decide to no longer be revolutionary and to just execute the individual missions such as license enforcement. There are companies at this juncture today, the problem is most don’t yet know it.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Belated happy father's day, dad.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
A rogue coalition is one that has come to power and has the ability to redefine proper behavior, morés and expectations. Of these characteristics, expectations is probably the most important. If one only expects gruel for dinner then gruel with sugar on top may be seen as a particularly yummy concoction.
Another defining characteristic of a rogue coalition is its ability to appear to be normal and part of the natural order. Many times, rogue coalitions come about as part of some other revolution, righting something that has gone desperately wrong and needs to be fixed.
Rogue coalitions come into power and attempt, at all cost, to retain that power. What starts as a revolution becomes a strategy to protect the revolutionists.
Are Microsoft and the other closed-source vendors nothing more than rogue coalitions? Are these institutions that are unable to see the furor they create that pre-sages the revolutions that will overthrow their business models? Can they be that blind to history?
Or is it more Machiavellian than that? Do the Microsofts of the world recognize that their business models are ultimately doomed and they’re simply attempting to extract the most they can before being forced to change?
I think it’s the former. I believe that as companies like Microsoft start to be managed by their second generation leaders they lose sight of the revolution they themselves fomented in the previous generation. They lose sight of the fact that ongoing change is critical to success and get lost in preserving business models that are no longer appropriate.
I believe that Microsoft and other closed-source vendors are nothing more than rogue coalitions that are destined to either change their business models or fall by the wayside.
It doesn’t matter to me whether Microsoft fails or evolves because all rogue coalitions are short-lived. This one just can’t be short enough for me.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
I'm back, well almost. I've been in Arizona the past few weeks and in Utah the past week or so at Lake Powell. Lake Powell is a fantastic place and one of the best things about it is the complete lack of phone, radio, internet and any other form of communication. We, meaning 12 family members, spent the week on a houseboat in close quarters enjoying a lot of nothing-time. The scenic, peaceful setting is nothing short of amazing.
I wrote a few blogs while I was gone and need to upload them, mostly about transparency, intellectual property/puffery and honesty in business models.