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Seth Godin – Survival is not Enough

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You outlined four factors that create failure: pressure from deadlines, fatigue, fear, and bosses who desire closure, not uncertainty. In contrast to that, you said startups have none of these problems. How can smart companies remove these obstacles to failure so that change is viewed as an opportunity? Can you reflect on how best practices for startups can be ap- plied to manage smart companies?

First, let’s understand that if you work every day at a company that makes money by producing something, then you can’t afford to blow that up. You can’t afford to say, “We’re going to stop making the Ford Taurus.” You can’t afford to say, “We don’t do Whole Life insurance anymore. It’s what we make all our money on, but we stopped.” That is the engine that pays for all the innovation that you are going to have to do.

My argument is: just don’t expect people to innovate, because they won’t. They are not rewarded for innovating. They don’t have time to innovate. Innovation just isn’t around the corner for them, not the big-time disruptive innovation that you’re talking about. In fact, the big-time disruptive innovation you are talking about would lead to failure in other aspects of the business resulting in them losing their jobs. In most companies there are strong incentives not to innovate.

What you need to do is isolate some people. Put them in an office across the street…Leave them alone and only reward them for failing because if you can create that environment, where there is time pressure and intellectual pressure but there isn’t that push-push-push from the boss, then and only then is it likely that they will do the kind of work that they do at startups.

What you need to do is isolate some people. Put them in an office across the street. Insist that they do not come back to you with interim reports. Leave them alone and only reward them for failing because if you can create that environment, where there is time pressure and intellectual pressure but there isn’t that push-push-push from the boss, then and only then is it likely that they will do the kind of work that they do at startups.

The mistake that big companies make is that they say, “We want to be as innovative as a startup, but we want to fail as often as an industrialist,” which is zero.

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Seth Godin – Best Selling Author

Seth Godin is the author of 17 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip and Purple Cow.

In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth is founder of squidoo.com, a fast growing, easy-to-use website. His blog (which you can find by typing “seth” into Google) is one of the most popular in the world. Before his work as a writer and blogger, Godin was Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo!, a job he got after selling them his pioneering 1990s online startup, Yoyodyne.

Recently, Godin once again set the book publishing on its ear by launching a series of four books via Kickstarter. The campaign reached its goal after three hours and ended up becoming the most successful book project ever done this way. His latest, The Icarus Deception, argues that we’ve been brainwashed by industrial propaganda, and pushes us to stand out, not to fit in.