Aug 20 2005

Unfolding the Map

Unfolding the Map

I heard two similar catchphrases last week, both from entrepreneurs I respect, that are diametrically opposed:

1. If you don’t have a map, you can’t get lost

2. If you don’t have a map, you can’t get where you’re going

How to reconcile the two?  I think the answer is stage of company.  In the early days of a business, being too rigid on what you’re building and how you interact with your customer set can doom you.  You have to be nimble!  Spry!  Not care exactly what your endgame is, as long as it’s good.

As your business grows and you have a customer base to support and numbers to hit, having too much product development wanderlust across the organization will kill you.  You have more people at more levels in the organization who need more direction and goal-setting in order to stay effective and productive.

The trick is having enough of a map in the early days to not get completely defocused, and having enough flexibility in the map later on to switch routes if there’s traffic ahead.