When you start a job, they give you a black box, metaphorically. Manuals, policies, procedures, spreadsheets, and templates. The box defines your job, which is to turn the crank on the box and produce reports, or sales, or widgets, or code, or... whatever.
On the second day at my new job I say, “Super excited to be here. I’ve been thinking about that black box. Have you ever tried it with rounded corners?”
Well, they haven’t, because the box works fine, great even. They’ve been using it for a decade, everyone is familiar with it. Why would you change the box?
That makes sense to me, and I like the job, so I keep turning the crank. But, as every day passes I become more confident, the box will work better with rounded corners. It starts as a curiosity and develops into an obsession, so I keep bringing it up. I can appreciate how that’s annoying.
I understand the argument for the status quo. Companies have momentum, there is value in consistency, changes cost time and money. I also believe that if your business isn’t evolving, it's dying. I’ve become sure that being a catalyst for change is where my value lies, and that I can’t help myself anyway, you can’t fight your nature.
There is a movement around starting a business designed to evolve. You begin with an idea to fly in the face of convention and build a grey rectangle, but you know going in that the plan will change, that the plan is to evolve the plan. You start with a grey rectangle, you build a prototype, put it in front of customers, test it, and you evolve it into a translucent green sphere. It’s a siren’s song luring many an inventive adventurer.
Entrepreneurship is a strange journey to volunteer for. Three of four startups end in failure. It’s a foolish thing to consider, yet it’s an alluring idea. You have to reach a point in your life where you would rather fail doing your own thing than succeed turning the crank on someone else’s black box.Dec 08