WARNING: The reader should be aware that some content in this blog entry may refer to episodes and events they are yet to see.
If you followed the TV series Lost, you probably have an opinion about the final episode. If you haven’t seen it, you can adopt this opinion: it sucked. In my opinion it sucked most because all the mysteries that should have climaxed in the finale just fell flat on their asses.
Through an untrained eye it would seem this project had the same faith.
So, as you can guess, the seed funding round for FinderBase failed. I didn’t become a millionaire even on paper. The overall benefit of this project is the difference between where we are now and where we would be without it. I have a hard time seeing the failure from the multitude of small successes that this project has caused.
But the end is a new beginning.
It is impossible to put in words the huge positive personal impact that this project has had on me. Instead, I’ve arranged a birthday party tomorrow at 5 pm Finnish time at our apartment.
Everyone is welcome.
Please register on the Facebook event page.
See you tomorrow!
Achieving anything requires someone to decide how to do it. This is plain and simple but still decision-making can be made extremely complicated.
Think of meetings.
Meetings are the blood and veins of the corporate life. In a good meeting everyone gets to express their opinion and present the pros and cons of different solutions. More than often the final conclusion is that there isn’t enough information available to make the decision. Then someone tells who does what to the next meeting.
This dilemma of decision-making is well illustrated in my favorite quote from the TV series Band of Brothers:
Lieutenant Dike wasn’t a bad leader because he made bad decisions. He was a bad leader because he made no decisions.
Some decision makers live in the illusion that their role is to make people happy by only making right decisions. I will argue that instead they should be making decisions to make people relieved.
I was in a meeting today, where it seemed no conclusion was to be made. When the decision was finally made it was a huge relief for everyone. Not just because the meeting was over but because making a decision allows everyone to spend time on doing instead of further investigating.
During the last few days I’ve received quite a few praises about my project and especially about my openness and the inspiring message in my writings.
Generally, it takes miracles for anyone to send positive feedback.
I will argue that people tend not to send feedback unless they are really impressed about something. If half-a-dozen people have been inspired about my project in the last few days, there has to be a great majority who just haven’t found the words to say it.
Why is the positive feedback so important?
The theoretical concept of positive feedback in sociology has the answer:
If enough people believe that something is true, their behavior makes it true.
The only weakness in this phenomenon is that only publicly expressed feedback counts. Luckily, only 2 % of my readers are hoping for my project to fail and probably have nothing positive to say about it.
Even a smile is an expressed positive feedback.
Giving positive feedback to other people doesn’t require effort. Think of a society, where people expressed positive emotions even without any apparent reason.
Give it a go! Try smiling with the next few people you meet and see how they react. Then come back here and tell us how it went.
Our 20,000 € application for further Tuli funding of our project was denied today.
The funny thing is that I’m not a least bit upset about this. The pros of freedom in decision making are overwhelming compared to the cons of not getting the money.
How could you fail if you turn every negative event into a success?
Obviously you can’t. People usually just want to see the negative side of things.
Every negative event has something positive in it. You just have to look for it.
I went through my list of good ideas today. It was indeed an interesting thing to do. I noticed that I had documented a lot of ideas that had already failed or pending for failure. Here are some examples:
- I had contacted altogether seven people that weren’t interested in what I’m doing. In the meantime the people that were interested had pointed me towards 13 more people that could be potentially useful contacts.
- I had discussed a total of 11 business ideas with people. Three of these were completely ignored or heavily criticized, six have potential, one is being implemented and one is already in production.
- I had 11 ideas that didn’t make it to this blog. At the same time I had 24 ideas that did.
What if I had just stopped trying after the first few failures?
It’s good that I didn’t. Success is the inevitable consequence of failing many times enough.
After two long days of intensive gaming, we finally completed the game today. The total length of the simulation was three years which amounted to about 20 hours of work in real life.
It was one of the biggest games ever played on the Simbu platform, nine teams altogether, competing of the same scarce resources and customers. I was prepared to tell you why and how we failed and what I learned from our failures but instead we won all the other teams by far. So here’s a short analysis why we did so well.
- The team. All our team members were average Joes. Four normal people with average intelligence. What a team lacks in skills and knowledge, it can easily make up in team spirit.
- The plan. All teams had one. Ours wasn’t too special in any way. Sticking to one’s plan and especially believing in it even when the times are rough will bring rewards. But sticking to the plan isn’t about just blindly following it.
- The routine. We knew who in our team did what and why. A team with a complimentary set of skills and roles is a good one.
- Constant learning. Just doing something better every time.
These four were the cornerstones of our success. I can’t say our team built its success on determination. Instead we trusted each other to make the right decisions. Trust and mutual respect within a team makes it work.
Our plan was based on a cost leadership strategy. All the companies had some strategy but instead of using arbitrary opportunities to diverge from ours, we chose to stick to it the best we could. That really paid off.
When the team trusts each other and there is a specific routine of doing things, there’s a good chance that all the stuff also gets done.
Finally, we had a system of making small adjustments to the ways we do things. Even minimal improvements and optimizations each quarter add up to huge savings throughout a three-year period.
The bottom line
I must say that although this course takes a lot of effort and time, it still is well worth it. What I think is the most relevant learning is that all people and teams have what it takes to be winners if they just get their minds tuned to the right frequency.
I was rehearsing my pitch yesterday in preparation for the actual pitch I’ll be having on Wednesday. My rehearsal pitch failed miserably.
So what is it with failing that makes us so scared?
If you think of failing on the stage it is soon the only thing you’re thinking about. I will argue that you could actually benefit by trying to fail on purpose. Do something totally unexpected and you’ll be remembered for life!
Sunday was the toughest day I’ve had on this project. I failed to complete the business plan that I mentioned on my post on Day 5 and spent the most of Monday trying to recover from the failure. I even got my wife upset failing to get to bed on time. So my week started down in the dumps.
In hindsight all these failures were good and educational experiences.
But if the day started bad, it ended great! I got so much power from the unselfish acts of my readers: thank you Johanna, Juho and Hannu.
Later today I will be having the biggest and most important business meeting this year. Failing this one obviously means there’s an even bigger deal waiting just around the corner.