Friday, August 31, 2007

It’s Alive! Start-ups and Old Monster Movies

In the movie Frankenstein, based on Mary Shelley’s novel, Dr. Frankenstein attempts to create human life by sewing together disparate body parts. Only, none of it works until there is an electric storm, whose lightning bolt gives off the spark of life. Parallels can be found in the quest to build a successful startup, and in the relation between the surgical systems approach and what I’ll call, for a lack of better terminology, “the spark.”

A systems person wants neither drama, nor surprises. Skilled professionals in the start-up business optimize, customize (and improvise) a foundation of systems that worked well for them in the past--whether in sales structure, HR, finance, executive recruitment tactics, R&D, marketing etc. To make those systems work they look for teams with proven track records in the field. And, with a bit of luck, all this may be imbued with the spark—that rare zeitgeisty combination of the right idea, the right people, the right time.

A company could be a perfect system if it wasn’t for the messy, but necessary, “Human Element”—comprising the entrepreneurs, the artists, the “emmerdeurs,” the friends, the enemies, the relatives, the apparatchiks, the mercenaries, the visionaries, the small-minded, the amateurs, the pros, the traitors, the lovers, the people with the big goals, the people with the little goals, the advisers, the investors, and, oh yes, the customer. In short, what the French call “The Human Comedy” or “La Comedie Humaine.”

The spark without the system dissipates; meanwhile systems without the spark are empty vessels.

Whether the spark is a bolt of lightning striking some random unsuspecting dumbass, who wakes up to find himself plonked on a pot of gold, or the collective will of sentient beings, with objectives of their own, sparks do happen.

As for what happens from there, nothing is certain once the Creature shambles down the hill towards the unsuspecting and soon-to-be terrorized villagers.


Roy Russo said...

Ya, tell me about it.

Marcf said...

Roy, you wouldn't terrorize your own poodle if you had one. Not even your kids take you that seriously, give it a rest.

Roy Russo said...

Clearly, you haven't seen me terrorize my cichlids. ;-)

Marcf said...

I stand corrected!