Re: [ACAT] Think like a startup

Posting to Autocat

On 13/04/2012 21:01, Daniel CannCasciato wrote:

1) I know of no libraries that don’t bill themselves as creative (review the job adds and that term is part of the boilerplate text almost always)

I have also seen this request for “creative” employees, and it is especially difficult in a bureaucratic situation, because creativity does not necessarily imply “success,” or at least the way that “success” would be interpreted by many administrators.

I want to emphasize that this is not finding fault with the administrators, because it is their job to demonstrate progress and advancement in return for the resources they have invested. It is really hard to stand in front of the budget people and admit that, “Well yes, we put significant resources into this “creative” project but it simply crashed and burned. We learned a lot and the next project will be better.” This is especially so today when each dollar (or euro) is so tightly controlled. Someone could easily see this as throwing good money after bad. It’s only a difference in attitude.

This is, I think, the major difference between an entrepreneurial startup and a bureaucracy. The startup (in theory) should be able to deal with this kind of situation, which happens all the time, in a much more flexible way. In the paper of Brian Mathews, he mentions this a bit, saying that “everything is beta.”

Returning back to my call for a business case for shall we say, “certain initiatives”, this is the importance of having a clear business case for a project from the very beginning and reviewing it often. If it turns out that the project is not succeeding, it can be more easily changed and redirected if discovered early in the process, than after a tremendous amount of time, resources and money have been thrown into it. There can be all kinds of reasons for this change that are completely outside of anyone’s control–perhaps someone else has discovered an alternate solution, or you get additional information that makes your original assumptions wrong to begin with. There is no fault here, but without a decent business case and without periodic review, it often turns out that your “creative project” has turned into a juggernaut that absolutely, positively, *must* succeed at all cost, no matter what new information you get or what alternative solutions may turn up because the consequences of admitting that it was wrong are just too dire to even imagine.

It can be difficult to include these kinds of considerations in a bureaucratic situation, although I don’t think it is impossible, while in a true startup, matters are more flexible, or at least, they are supposed to be.