Jak powinno wyglądać rozwijanie firmy w XXI wieku. Inne podejście niż w tradycyjnym korporacyjnym świecie. Na pewno już nie tak nowatorska jak w momencie wydania ale wciąż warto przeczytać.
“THAT WOULD NEVER work in the real world.” You hear it all the time when you tell people about a fresh idea.
This real world sounds like an awfully depressing place to live . It’s a place where new ideas , unfamiliar approaches , and foreign concepts always lose . The only things that win are what people already know and do , even if those things are flawed and inefficient . Scratch the surface and you’ll find these “ real world ” inhabitants are filled with pessimism and despair . They expect fresh concepts to fail . They assume society isn’t ready for or capable of change . Even worse , they want to drag others down into their tomb . If you’re hopeful and ambitious , they’ll try to convince you your ideas are impossible . They’ll say you’re wasting your time . Don’t believe them . That world may be real for them , but it doesn’t mean you have to live in it .
Another common misconception: You need to learn from your mistakes. What do you really learn from mistakes? You might learn what not to do again, but how valuable is that? You still don’t know what you should do next. Contrast that with learning from your successes. Success gives you real ammunition. When something succeeds, you know what worked—and you can do it again.
Do we look at Harvard or Oxford and say, “If they’d only expand and branch out and hire thousands more professors and go global and open other campuses all over the world . . . then they’d be great schools.” Of course not. That’s not how we measure the value of these institutions. So why is it the way we measure businesses? Maybe the right size for your company is five people. Maybe it’s forty. Maybe it’s two hundred. Or maybe it’s just you and a laptop. Don’t make assumptions about how big you should be ahead of time. Grow slow and see what feels right—premature hiring is the death of many companies. And avoid huge growth spurts too—they can cause you to skip right over your appropriate size. Small is not just a stepping-stone. Small is a great destination in itself.
TO DO GREAT work, you need to feel that you’re making a difference. That you’re putting a meaningful dent in the universe. That you’re part of something important. This doesn’t mean you need to find the cure for cancer. It’s just that your efforts need to feel valuable. You want your customers to say, “This makes my life better.” You want to feel that if you stopped doing what you do, people would notice. You should feel an urgency about this too. You don’t have forever. This is your life’s work. Do you want to build just another me-too product or do you want to shake things up? What you do is your legacy. Don’t sit around and wait for someone else to make the change you want to see. And don’t think it takes a huge team to make that difference either.
The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use. That lets you design what you know—and you’ll figure out immediately whether or not what you’re making is any good.
When you build a product or service, you make the call on hundreds of tiny decisions each day. If you’re solving someone else’s problem, you’re constantly stabbing in the dark. When you solve your own problem, the light comes on. You know exactly what the right answer is.
Best of all, this “solve your own problem” approach lets you fall in love with what you’re making. You know the problem and the value of its solution intimately. There’s no substitute for that. After all, you’ll (hopefully) be working on this for years to come. Maybe even the rest of your life. It better be something you really care about.
We all have that one friend who says, “I had the idea for eBay. If only I had acted on it, I’d be a billionaire!” That logic is pathetic and delusional. Having the idea for eBay has nothing to do with actually creating eBay. What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan. Think your idea’s that valuable? Then go try to sell it and see what you get for it. Not much is probably the answer. Until you actually start making something, your brilliant idea is just that, an idea. And everyone’s got one of those. Stanley Kubrick gave this advice to aspiring filmmakers: “Get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all.”6 Kubrick knew that when you’re new at something, you need to start creating. The most important thing is to begin. So get a camera, hit Record, and start shooting. Ideas are cheap and plentiful. The original pitch idea is such a small part of a business that it’s almost negligible. The real question is how well you execute.
The most common excuse people give: “There’s not enough time.” They claim they’d love to start a company, learn an instrument, market an invention, write a book, or whatever, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Come on. There’s always enough time if you spend it right. And don’t think you have to quit your day job, either. Hang onto it and start work on your project at night. Instead of watching TV or playing World of Warcraft, work on your idea. Instead of going to bed at ten, go to bed at eleven. We’re not talking about all-nighters or sixteen-hour days—we’re talking about squeezing out a few extra hours a week. That’s enough time to get something going. Once you do that, you’ll learn whether your excitement and interest is real or just a passing phase. If it doesn’t pan out, you just keep going to work every day like you’ve been doing all along. You didn’t risk or lose anything, other than a bit of time, so it’s no big deal.
When you want something bad enough, you make the time—regardless of your other obligations. The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough. Then they protect their ego with the excuse of time. Don’t let yourself off the hook with excuses. It’s entirely your responsibility to make your dreams come true. Besides, the perfect time never arrives. You’re always too young or old or busy or broke or something else. If you constantly fret about timing things perfectly, they’ll never happen
A strong stand is how you attract superfans. They point to you and defend you. And they spread the word further, wider, and more passionately than any advertising could. Strong opinions aren’t free. You’ll turn some people off. They’ll accuse you of being arrogant and aloof. That’s life. For everyone who loves you, there will be others who hate you. If no one’s upset by what you’re saying, you’re probably not pushing hard enough. (And you’re probably boring, too.) Lots of people hate us because our products do less than the competition’s. They’re insulted when we refuse to include their pet feature. But we’re just as proud of what our products don’t do as we are of what they do.
When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.
You can turn a bunch of great ideas into a crappy product real fast by trying to do them all at once. You just can’t do everything you want to do and do it well. You have limited time, resources, ability, and focus. It’s hard enough to do one thing right. Trying to do ten things well at the same time? Forget about it.
So sacrifice some of your darlings for the greater good. Cut your ambition in half. You’re better off with a kick-ass half than a half-assed whole.
Lots of things get better as they get shorter. Directors cut good scenes to make a great movie. Musicians drop good tracks to make a great album. Writers eliminate good pages to make a great book. We cut this book in half between the next-to-last and final drafts. From 57,000 words to about 27,000 words. Trust us, it’s better for it.
When you start anything new, there are forces pulling you in a variety of directions. There’s the stuff you could do, the stuff you want to do, and the stuff you have to do. The stuff you have to do is where you should begin. Start at the epicenter.
For example, if you’re opening a hot dog stand, you could worry about the condiments, the cart, the name, the decoration. But the first thing you should worry about is the hot dog. The hot dogs are the epicenter. Everything else is secondary.
The way to find the epicenter is to ask yourself this question: “If I took this away, would what I’m selling still exist?” A hot dog stand isn’t a hot dog stand without the hot dogs. You can take away the onions, the relish, the mustard, etc. Some people may not like your toppings-less dogs, but you’d still have a hot dog stand. But you simply cannot have a hot dog stand without any hot dogs.
Details make the difference. But getting infatuated with details too early leads to disagreement, meetings, and delays. You get lost in things that don’t really matter. You waste time on decisions that are going to change anyway. So ignore the details—for a while. Nail the basics first and worry about the specifics later.
You want to get into the rhythm of making choices. When you get in that flow of making decision after decision, you build momentum and boost morale. Decisions are progress. Each one you make is a brick in your foundation. You can’t build on top of “We’ll decide later,” but you can build on top of “Done.”
The problem comes when you postpone decisions in the hope that a perfect answer will come to you later. It won’t. You’re as likely to make a great call today as you are tomorrow.
We stuck with that approach for a while and then eventually implemented a system that pays cash. And that’s a big part of this: You don’t have to live with a decision forever. If you make a mistake, you can correct it later. It doesn’t matter how much you plan, you’ll still get some stuff wrong anyway. Don’t make things worse by overanalyzing and delaying before you even get going.
Too much ketchup can ruin the fries. Value is about balance.
The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now. Those are the things you should invest in.
Japanese automakers also focus on core principles that don’t change: reliability, affordability, and practicality. People wanted those things thirty years ago, they want them today, and they’ll want them thirty years from now.
Interruptions break your workday into a series of work moments. Forty-five minutes and then you have a call. Fifteen minutes and then you have lunch. An hour later, you have an afternoon meeting. Before you know it, it’s five o’clock, and you’ve only had a couple uninterrupted hours to get your work done. You can’t get meaningful things done when you’re constantly going start, stop, start, stop.
Instead, you should get in the alone zone. Long stretches of alone time are when you’re most productive. When you don’t have to mind-shift between various tasks, you get a boatload done. (Ever notice how much work you get done on a plane since you’re offline and there are zero outside distractions?)
Getting into that zone takes time and requires avoiding interruptions. It’s like REM sleep: You don’t just go directly into REM sleep. You go to sleep first and then make your way to REM. Any interruptions force you to start over. And just as REM is when the real sleep magic happens, the alone zone is where the real productivity magic happens.
Meetings are toxic The worst interruptions of all are meetings. Here’s why: They’re usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things. They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute. They drift off-subject easier than a Chicago cab in a snowstorm. They require thorough preparation that most people don’t have time for. They frequently have agendas so vague that nobody is really sure of the goal. They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense. Meetings procreate. One meeting leads to another meeting leads to another . . .
If you decide you absolutely must get together, try to make your meeting a productive one by sticking to these simple rules: Set a timer. When it rings, meeting’s over. Period. Invite as few people as possible. Always have a clear agenda. Begin with a specific problem. Meet at the site of the problem instead of a conference room. Point to real things and suggest real changes. End with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing it.
Excitement comes from doing something and then letting customers have at it. Planning a menu for a year is boring. Getting the new menu out, serving the food, and getting feedback is exciting. So don’t wait too long—you’ll smother your sparks if you do.
If you absolutely have to work on long-term projects, try to dedicate one day a week (or every two weeks) to small victories that generate enthusiasm. Small victories let you celebrate and release good news. And you want a steady stream of good news. When there’s something new to announce every two weeks, you energize your team and give your customers something to be excited about. So ask yourself, “What can we do in two weeks?” And then do it. Get it out there and let people use it, taste it, play it, or whatever. The quicker it’s in the hands of customers, the better off you’ll be.
Keep in mind that the obvious solution might very well be quitting. People automatically associate quitting with failure, but sometimes that’s exactly what you should do. If you already spent too much time on something that wasn’t worth it, walk away. You can’t get that time back. The worst thing you can do now is waste even more time.
The solution: Break the big thing into smaller things. The smaller it is, the easier it is to estimate. You’re probably still going to get it wrong, but you’ll be a lot less wrong than if you estimated a big project. If something takes twice as long as you expected, better to have it be a small project that’s a couple weeks over rather than a long one that’s a couple months over.
Keep breaking your time frames down into smaller chunks. Instead of one twelve-week project, structure it as twelve one-week projects. Instead of guesstimating at tasks that take thirty hours or more, break them down into more realistic six-to-ten-hour chunks. Then go one step at a time.
Start making smaller to-do lists too. Long lists collect dust. When’s the last time you finished a long list of things? You might have knocked off the first few, but chances are you eventually abandoned it (or blindly checked off items that weren’t really done properly). Long lists are guilt trips. The longer the list of unfinished items, the worse you feel about it. And at a certain point, you just stop looking at it because it makes you feel bad. Then you stress out and the whole thing turns into a big mess.There’s a better way. Break that long list down into a bunch of smaller lists. For example, break a single list of a hundred items into ten lists of ten items. That means when you finish an item on a list, you’ve completed 10 percent of that list, instead of 1 percent. Yes, you still have the same amount of stuff left to do. But now you can look at the small picture and find satisfaction, motivation, and progress. That’s a lot better than staring at the huge picture and being terrified and demoralized.
Whenever you can, divide problems into smaller and smaller pieces until you’re able to deal with them completely and quickly. Simply rearranging your tasks this way can have an amazing impact on your productivity and motivation.
People avoid saying no because confrontation makes them uncomfortable. But the alternative is even worse. You drag things out, make things complicated, and work on ideas you don’t believe in. It’s like a relationship: Breaking one up is hard to do, but staying in it just because you’re too chicken to drop the ax is even worse. Deal with the brief discomfort of confrontation up front and avoid the long-term regret.
Hire a ton of people rapidly and a “strangers at a cocktail party” problem is exactly what you end up with. There are always new faces around, so everyone is unfailingly polite. Everyone tries to avoid any conflict or drama.
You don’t create a culture. It happens. This is why new companies don’t have a culture. Culture is the by-product of consistent behavior. If you encourage people to share, then sharing will be built into your culture. If you reward trust, then trust will be built in. If you treat customers right, then treating customers right becomes your culture.
Culture isn’t a foosball table or trust falls. It isn’t policy. It isn’t the Christmas party or the company picnic. Those are objects and events, not culture. And it’s not a slogan, either. Culture is action, not words. So don’t worry too much about it. Don’t force it. You can’t install a culture. Like a fine scotch, you’ve got to give it time to develop.
That’s because being a good writer is about more than writing. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They know what to omit. And those are qualities you want in any candidate.
Decisions are temporary “But what if . . . ?” “What happens when . . . ?” “Don’t we need to plan for . . . ?” Don’t make up problems you don’t have yet. It’s not a problem until it’s a real problem. Most of the things you worry about never happen anyway. Besides, the decisions you make today don’t need to last forever. It’s easy to shoot down good ideas, interesting policies, or worthwhile experiments by assuming that whatever you decide now needs to work for years on end. It’s just not so, especially for a small business. If circumstances change, your decisions can change. Decisions are temporary.
At this stage, it’s silly to worry about whether or not your concept will scale from five to five thousand people (or from a hundred thousand to 100 million people). Getting a product or service off the ground is hard enough without inventing even more obstacles. Optimize for now and worry about the future later.
As the saying goes, “If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.” You want busy people. People who have a life outside of work. People who care about more than one thing. You shouldn’t expect the job to be someone’s entire life—at least not if you want to keep them around for a long time.
WE ALL HAVE ideas. Ideas are immortal. They last forever. What doesn’t last forever is inspiration. Inspiration is like fresh fruit or milk: It has an expiration date. If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it now. You can’t put it on a shelf and wait two months to get around to it. You can’t just say you’ll do it later. Later, you won’t be pumped up about it anymore. If you’re inspired on a Friday, swear off the weekend and dive into the project. When you’re high on inspiration, you can get two weeks of work done in twenty-four hours. Inspiration is a time machine in that way. Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.