Can you manage a startup the same way you manage a large company? This Forbes article compares Facebook to Myspace and answers that question with an unequivocal “NO”.
(Facebook) No rules. Not really any plans. No forecasting markets. Or foretelling uses. No trying to be smarter than the users to determine what they shouldn’t do. Not prejudging ideas so as to limit capability and focus the business toward a projected conclusion. To the contrary, it was about adding, adding, adding and doing whatever would allow the marketplace to flourish. Permission to do whatever it takes to keep growing. And resource it as best you can – without prejudice as to what might work well, or even best. Keep after all of it. What doesn’t work stop resourcing, what does work do more.
Contrarily, at NewsCorp the leaders of MySpace had a plan. NewsCorp isn’t run by college kids lacking business sense. Leaders create Powerpoint decks describing where the business will head, where they will invest, how they will earn a positive ROI with projections of what will work – and why – and then plans to make it happen. They developed the plan, and then worked the plan. Plan and execute. The professional managers at News Corp looked into the future, decided what to do, and did it. They didn’t leave direction up to market feedback and crafty techies – they ran MySpace like a professional business.
And how’d that work out for them?
Unfortunately, MySpace demonstrates a big fallacy of modern management. The belief that smart MBAs, with industry knowledge, will perform better. That “good management” means you predict, you forecast, you plan, and then you go execute the plan. Instead of reacting to market shifts, fast, allowing mistakes to happen while learning what works, professional managers should be able to predict and perform without making mistakes. That once the bright folks who create the strategy set a direction, its all about executing the plan. That execution will lead to success. If you stumble, you need to focus harder on execution. Probably get a new President who understands execution – in a more brutal way.
This realization should have a profound effect on how you view your business. Throw away the Powerpoints. Listen to your customers. Move quickly when they ask for something. Stop planning and start building. Build something great.