The cost of being Microsoft perhaps leads us to another reason why we should not work at a big company. I recently read Tom Peters’ The Circle of Innovation, and I am indebted to Manoj for lending it to me. The book introduces radical concepts; rather, re-introduces them, since we already know most of them and have experienced it many other phases of our life.
And the two that have stuck with me are:
To quote from the book:
Bottom line: Mistakes are not the “spice” of life. Mistakes are life. Mistakes are not to be tolerated. They are to be encouraged. (And, mostly, the bigger the better.)
To retain the spirit of innovation, the spirit of experiments, and hence mistakes and failures has to be retained. Most big companies do not follow this. Because each of their experiments is backed by huge business plans and the launch. A failure can tarnish their reputation and lower their stock price.
The idea of employee-as-businessperson
An individual needs enough authority to take initiative and complete a certain task. If the authority lies in a chain of people, it slows down them momentum. Without authority, the sense of responsibility fades as well. I think it is important for every person in a business to understand what value they and their work add to it.
While I earlier thought that an employee and an entrepreneur needs contrasting attitude and aptitude, this idea of employee-as-a-businessperson can realign them.
Small companies tend to follow these ideas, sometimes for different reasons, but the probability is higher. Most of the big companies try to avoid them because it is difficult to manage and not affordable. And of course like all generalizations, this one has its exceptions.
So the best thing is next time you want to join a company, try to find out their attitude towards experiments and their affordability for mistakes.