Playing like Dogs and Cats for early venture success
Updated: Mar 31, 2021
I thought about writing this article after watching an interview of Marc Simoncini, French serial entrepreneur (Link). And it reminded me what I experience everyday at work with half of the team having a management profile while the other are more kind of entrepreneurial profile.
To start I'll say that entrepreneur & intrapreneurs will meet along their journey many people. Among them you have “dogs“ who say "And" ... also you have the "cats" who say "But" and to be successful you need both in your advisors circles. Like dogs and cats the "And" & "But" sayers don't really like each others. Actually they think very differently, like Kahneman would say: the ones more gut feeling, the others rational thinking.
Citing Marc Simoncini: the "And" would get excited and energized on the entrepreneur idea. Example: "Brilliant project, we could combine it with X and add Y and target Z market and even get additional revenue from XX and extend to YY customers and consider ZZ new developments". This is what will happen if you surround yourself with business angels who have soul or experience of entrepreneurs. The "And" will give you some positive energy to move the project further and open the space of possibilities, seize novel opportunities.
Like Marc Simoncini also says that the "But" would be more skeptical, measured, supporting rational part of project but considering the risk and uncertainties. Example: "Interessant project, we could look further at X but you need to get Y sorted first and make you anticipate plan around Z but keeping it lean and focus around XX dimensions but not more than YY, but for that you'll need first ZZ". Unfortunately, this is the majority of people you meet in large corporation, many are managers, rational and with accounting mindset. The "But" are extremely useful to get your project on track but if you are not resilient enough you'll not be capable to move along their stringent demand.
You need the right balance between the "And" & "But":
The "And" provide you the energy to be resilient and also their creativity to bend/hack the system and circumvent some impossible requests from the company. One of them is predicting the future.
The "But" provide a strong reality check to ground the entrepreneur and keep focus, avoid wasting time effort, and concentrate on critical assumptions to tests, tangible facts to learn and needed to guide decision making.
The risk for an organization is when the "And" & "But" misjudge each others. You need a working environment extremely productive for entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs that allow healthy conflicts for fast progress and impact making of the new venture. Unfortunately, in corporate environments, the "But" are the majority while the "And" have been evicted years after years of disdainful HR talent management. Ideally, such a strong innovation environment needs the rare remaining "And" people while involving the "But" people that are already trained and experienced to work with them.
Like getting dogs and cats together, making the "And" & "But" people working collaboratively is an Art.... my Art.