Timeframe, Staying Power, and the Long View
- February 1, 2013
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I liked this thought by Om Malik, and Max Levchin, on the long view:
When asked, he said that it is time to get off the four-year-cycle of the Silicon Valley startup. However, to solve bigger problems, sometimes you need a longer horizon: a ten-year schedule for example, Levchin said. “At PayPal, we viewed the world in a four year horizon,” he said, “Because that is how the valley worked. Had we thought it as a 20-year old company, the whole thing would be different.” He believes that for some odd reason being a 10-to-15 year old technology company isn’t cool, but that thinking has to change in order to get bigger breakthroughs. The four year-cycle implies a certain pacing and if you don’t show returns in that time, people start quitting — whether it is your investors or employees, he added. Sure, some break out — Google and Facebook for example — but “we need more of those breakouts,” Levchin said.
Max and Om are talking about this in the BIG sense – creating more Googles and Facebooks. Which requires staying power, and the long view. But I believe in this in long-term outlook even when you’re goal isn’t to change the world, but just to build a lasting enterprise. Fedex started out by doing express overnight, not necessarily intending to alter the way the economy works forever. But by sticking with it for many long years and building the business to scale, that’s exactly what they’ve done. GSD&M in Austin is the product of a lifetime of work by its founders and early employees – Idea City downtown is a landmark, and their people and culture still have an outsized impact on Austin’s culture and professional landscape. Who doesn’t want to have this kind of impact?
Sometimes to make your little dent in the universe, it takes longer than 4 years. It may take longer than 8.
I’ve been working in the field of BPM since 2003- 10 years now. In hindsight, most of my work prior to that was around process improvement – without using process improvement terminology. The projects I worked on:
- Improved sales processes for voice mail and automated response equipment providers
- Improved the way Xerox sold networked high-end printing solutions
- Improved the way auto manufacturers defined product for consumption on the web – reaching all the way back to how that data was defined by engineering, manufacturing, and marketing, rather than creating a new data silo just for the web.
By and large, the processes we focused on were sales, quotation, and proposal processes. When I joined Lombardi, I thought I was shifting gears to a new career. But it was really just opening my eyes to what I had been building my career around all along.
Building BP3 is just the next phase for Lance and I and our team. How do we take business process management (BPM) to the next level? Starting out with a new company, first you just have to survive. Then you marshal your resources to grow and thrive. Finally, you get to turn your energy toward altering the trajectory, the landscape, of BPM as you know it.
We’re not just focused on improving processes for customers. We’re improving the process of process improvement – improving the way BP3 runs as an organization that delivers process improvements and innovates in BPM. That is a mission that could keep us busy for a long time, trying to make our own little dent in the universe. We’ve been building BP3 for over 5 years now, and the next 5 years look more interesting and promising than ever.