My House Was Burgled

A couple of days ago my house was burgled.

The thieves went through every room in the house and went through all of my personal belongings, cupboards, drawers… you name it.  Ironically the only part of the house that these guys were not interested in was the study.

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The study

On that bookshelf you have everything that you’d need to become a doctor, there are books there to teach you how to code, how to start a business and make money, how to manage businesses, history books, political books…  Essentially everything you need to become a highly skilled person that would either be highly employable or would allow you to become self-employed.

It’s hard to have sympathy for someone who makes their living through crime and clearly has no willingness to become a better person.  Sigh……

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Regulations

I find it really interesting how rules and regulations often stop people from doing important work.  Everyone knows how it often stands in the way of justice, of positive change and innovation.

Looking at countries instead of organisations is an interesting thought experiment.  The countries which have the longest democratic history are the countries with the most rules and regulations.  Why?  Because they’ve existed for the longest.  The longer they exist for, the more rules and regulations become codified and enforced.

The same is true of organisations.  The NHS is a really good example of this.  As a startup founder working in the NHS I have had first hand experience of this.  There are layers and layers of management* and bureaucracy.  The NHS is a very old organisation, deals with very sensitive information and is also a political tool.  Is it any wonder that it has so many rules and regulations?

I suppose the interesting question is; Can it change?

I don’t think it can.

Larry Page, who clearly takes innovation and change seriously, has previously talked about how as Google got bigger they started to worry about innovation slowing down at the organisation.  He started wondering if he could get rid of some of the rules and regulations in place that had come in to place as the organisation grew.  He realised he couldn’t significantly do it because Google are in practically every country around the world, have tens of thousands of employees and that there needs to be a lot rules and regulations in place at this point in time (Google however are a very clever organisation and they have systems and organisational tools in place to ensure that they always remain innovative despite the regulations in place).  It does seem inevitable that as countries and organisations age that the rules and regulations will continue to get bigger and bigger.

As a side note – one suggestion Larry did mention was that it would be interesting to take out an old regulation every time a new regulation is put in place to circumvent too much stifling.  I noted today that Donald Trump is actually going to make this a policy in America.  It will be very interesting to see what happens with regards to this and whether other countries and organisations will follow suit, as it is a very good idea.

The part about regulations is at 1.30

*Some people say that the NHS isn’t over managed as compared to other organisations we have a reasonable number of managers per thousand employees in comparison to other organisations.  However, it isn’t the number of managers in the NHS which is the problem.  It is the way that the organisation is structured and the role they play in the organisation which is the problem.

Disruption Looks Like A Toy

When the first iPhone was released it was flown over to Nokia headquarters.  One of the divisions in Nokia had already been working on a similar product and was asking for some more money to develop it further.  One of the executives held the iPhone up and asked the fatal rhetorical question:

“What’s their market share?”

The rest is history.

Make It Count

Easy Wins Don’t Count

If someone gets the grades by cheating or gets that promotion because their dad is the boss then it doesn’t count.  They know it and everyone else knows it.  What’s more, because they didn’t earn it they have no character, integrity or insight.  They haven’t learnt how to work with people, how to bring out the best in people and lead them.

It doesn’t count.

Easy Failures Don’t Count

Did you really fail?  Or did you give up?

Real failures mean something.

It means you gave it your all.  You put your character, integrity and insight on the line.  Real failure means you worked with people and they gave you the best they could.  They dedicated a part of their life to you because they believed in you as you lead them to failure.

Unless you’ve done the above then you don’t have the right to say that you failed.

If you’ve done the above, then it counts and you can keep your head held high.

The Process

People focus on events.

Whether it’s when someone sells their company for tens of millions, or when someone wins gold at the Olympics, or when someone graduates from a prestigious University with a good degree; people focus on the event.

What they don’t focus on is the process.

The process is the hours of work, of focused practice that the person had to go through.  All the sacrifice they had to make and all the things they had to say no to to achieve something worth mentioning is the process.

It’s easy to put it down to luck.  That means it’s not our fault.  Putting it down to luck lets us off the hook.  It’s comforting to think that the world is mean and some people are just born a certain way.  Maybe they look the right way or they have the right parents?

However, the process doesn’t lie.  The process is what stands between you and the event.

Be An Artist

Creating a start-up is like being an artist.

What do we love about our favourite artists?  Whether it’s Leonardo da Vinci or Metallica, what is it that we love about people who create art?

In my opinion we love them because they were willing to be exposed.  To put something out into the world and be vulnerable.  This method of connection, of showing ones true self to the world is what makes artists great.

But what happens when times change?  When rock music stopped being cool and people moved on to listening to rap and grunge music, what happened to all those 80’s rock bands?

The good rock bands continued on unswayed creating music to express themselves as they always did.

The bad rock bands tried to conform to the times and changed their music to fit in.  This group of musicians became irrelevant and disappeared.

In a start up when you’re running out of funds, the tendency is to do what the latter group of musicians did.  As soon as you say to yourself “this startup has to work and I’ll do anything to succeed.”, you lose the ability to think creatively and stick to your original vision.  What happens is that you end up conforming, changing your product and trying to fit in.  You are doomed at this point.

What you should say is; “This startup might not work.  But I have enough integrity and care enough about what I am doing to stick to the original mission.”.  This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the evidence out there that says you’re heading towards failure, but being flexible in how to accomplish your mission is key here.

Go Around

It used to be that if someone at the top said no, then that would be it.  You’ve hit the dead-end and you can’t go any further.

Now, when people say no, what you should be hearing is; “it’s not for me”.  In this connected age if someone says no, all you have to do is find someone that says; “yes, that’s for me.  I want to be a part of what you are doing.”.

Go around.  There are so many opportunities that if you just peep around that corner or look under that un-turned stone you’ll find your “yes!”.