The Perils Of Extrapolation: Who Knows What The Next Disruptive Innovation Will Be
from the be-quick-to-adapt dept
There are all sorts of “lessons” that you hear concerning entrepreneurship, but the one that has always struck me as being the most reasonable and valuable is:
People who haven’t built a company think that it’s “the plan” or “the idea” that matters. That’s almost never the case. Look at nearly every successful startup, and their business has little (if anything) to do with their initial plan. Google was going to sell search appliances as the core of its business. YouTube was supposed to be a dating service. Things change — and the only thing that matters is how well your company adapts and executes. That’s why it’s silly to be too protective of a plan or idea or to focus on things like patents or NDAs. Most of that doesn’t matter. Separately, projecting out more than a year may be a fun exercise, but is generally meaningless.
Clay Shirky had a great Twitter message this past weekend that puts that point into perspective nicely:
Why I ignore all “5 year plans”: 5 years ago, YouTube and Twitter didn’t exist, and Facebook was only for college kids
If you go back and look at plans or predictions from 2005, of where web content would be in 2010, it’s unlikely that “micromessaging” like Twitter or online video like YouTube was considered quite as central. Certainly some folks thought video was on the cusp back then, but they expected it to come from professional offerings like BrightCove, rather than a user-generated setup like YouTube. It’s always difficult to predict which innovation is actually going to hit — and plenty of companies, especially in the media space, have had to change and adjust their strategies due to things like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook — just like how a decade ago, companies quickly started adjusting their strategy to deal with Google. Five years from now, plenty of startups will be adjusting their strategy for some other service as well… And the only way you can do that is by being adaptable.