A perfect time to start a business

Amar BhidéI studied 100 founders of Inc. Magazine’s 1989 list of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the U.S. Virtually all of them had started between 1981-83 in the midst of an awful recession.

But that didn’t prevent those founders from starting a new venture — in fact, in many ways it may have helped. Several had lost their jobs, so they weren’t risking steady employment — and they were able to hire employees who didn’t have great job prospects on the cheap. Landlords offered leases without asking too many questions about credit histories. Suppliers were willing to wait to be paid.

Amar Bhidé
Columbia Business School
“The Venturesome Economy.”
Why Bad Times Nurture New Inventions

Reluctance to be wrong stops creativity & growth

A great article in the New York Times, a few highlights:

Paul J. H. Schoemaker, chairman of Decision Strategies International…

“We get fixated on achievement,” he said, but, “everyone is talking about the need to innovate. If you already know the answer, it’s not learning. In most personal and business contexts, if you avoid the error, you avoid the learning process.”

We grow up with a mixed message: making mistakes is a necessary learning tool, but we should avoid them.

Carol S. Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, has studied this and related issues for decades.

“Studies with children and adults show that a large percentage cannot tolerate mistakes or setbacks,” she said.

  • We are risk-averse because “our personal and professional pride is tied up in being right. Employees are rewarded for good decisions and penalized for failures, so they spend a great deal of time and energy trying not to make mistakes.”
  • We tend to favor data that confirms our beliefs.
  • We assume feedback is reliable, although in reality it is often lacking or misleading. We don’t often look outside tested channels.

Into the Storm: A Study in Command

Tom Clancy

Lessons for managers from how the Army re-made itself between Vietnam and Desert Storm.

I was moderating a conference of business owners in the late 1990s as they lamented the poor work habits and other failings of “Gen-Xers.” Finally, I’d had enough so I said, “Say what you will about body piercing and Starbucks, I don’t think that’s the key issue. It looks to me that our generation’s contributions were the drug culture and Vietnam while the present generation has given us the Internet and Desert Storm.” The question becomes, how did this happen? Into the Storm provides part of the answer.

I am a baby-boomer who came of age in the Vietnam era, so my interest in things military was slight and my general opinion of military organization, I’m ashamed to say, came more from Catch-22 and MASH than reality. Yet, the U.S. Army has done some huge and useful things, so I was willing to take a fresh look with this book.

In the aftermath of Vietnam, “the Army began a revolution in (more…)