“It didn’t work,” said the King. “The cloak of invisibility didn’t work.”
“Yes, it did,” said the Royal Wizard.
“No, it didn’t,” said the King. “I kept bumping into things, the same as ever.”
“The cloak is supposed to make you invisible,” said the Royal Wizard. “It is not supposed to keep you from bumping into things.”
“All I know is, I kept bumping into things,” said the King.”
While this is about business in general it certainly taps into entrepreneurs & entrepreneurial attitudes and what happens once a business transitions from startup to ‘gravitas.’
Unreasonableness is very often a matter of perspective. In addition. being unreasonable is often not being some innovative disruptor but rather someone who prioritizes progress over, well, everything else.
Regardless. My favorite unreasonable example on this has to do with successful entrepreneurs. Unreasonable is status quo for becoming successful, yet, once successful, the people around the entrepreneur owner will most likely see the unreasonable as unreasonably risky (this creates some tension). In this situation the biggest issue is often the entrepreneur is comfortable doing things which may appear to have never done before, but once a business is up and running the team tends to seek things that have been done in the past <or “proven practices & things” from the past> to develop action plans. In this situation I am usually the jerk who says “most business success, in general, typically has a layer of idiosyncrasy <and context> that begs the ultimate question – can it really be copied?”
(I usually answer my own question: no)
Look. Here is a thought <to be applied with business book learning before you run off implementing everything you read> … as Henry Kissinger pointed out when discussing learning from history … “if you are seeking examples and exact parallelisms by studying history you will be disappointed. The study of history is the study of analogies.” However, all that said, I actually found an interesting business book. There is a relatively short book called ‘The Art of being Unreasonable” from a guy named Eli Broad.
I liked it for 4 reasons.
1. It was pretty short – I love it.
2. He suggests that rather than be a pioneer it is often better to be second with a new idea. – I love it.
3. He suggests that the best diversification may not be into an industry related to your own. – I love it.
4. The premise of the entire book is that the world has always been shaped by unreasonable people <ultimately they are the ones who force change>. – I love it.
The book did get me thinking and some thoughts which relate to the art of being unreasonable.
Business people often confuse safe with smart.
Safe may not be smart … because it is … well … just safe. Typically safe means less return <combined with less risk of course>. In fact it often translates into less return than the initial idea because it is … well … simply an extension of what is <smaller increments of growth>.
That (in simplistic terms) doesn’t mean bad return but rather diminishing return. Because it is, well, safe <okay … you get the point about safe>. Safe is hedging your bets. It is a sound strategy depending on what you would like to achieve. And it is a reasonable thing to do.
The book’s point is that isn’t what an entrepreneur <or business builders in general> is all about – being reasonable. They simply get convinced to do so by those around after their initial unreasonable-driven success (or sometimes they simply fear losing that has been gained).
Here is a silly thought. Maybe an unreasonable thought.
Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs. To ask them to be anything other than what they are is fraught with peril.
As Broad points out there is a safe path (extension into a related industry) or a comfortable path (one that is an extension of him). By the way I love the distinction between safe and comfortable in this sense because to some people <me could be included here> safe can make some leaders uncomfortable, conversely, some leaders are quite comfortable with risk.
But I have coached several businesses in a similar fashion. It makes them uncomfortable (the leader group) and excites the one (the leader). I often find myself negotiating between the desires of the organization formed behind the success of the leader/entrepreneur … and the entrepreneur themself.
It is an odd experience.
I would say in my experience that the entrepreneur gets dragged down into the dismal depths of the “reasonable” decision making organization. The main argument is businesses inherently desire to protect their success once they have shifted beyond the intial building. Now. I also admit I often walk away shaking my head in disappointment as the one who “built” defers to those who “protect” an investment under the guise of a “mature business people.”
What many business people don’t recognize is that building & protecting are different skills. Or, actually, they probably do but inevitably decisions need to be made that become a battle between comfortable and uncomfortable … and the seemingly reasonable and the unreasonable.
However, there is an art to being unreasonable. An art that can lead to stunning success if it is fostered properly and encouraged <even if it is uncomfortable>.
Never totally disregard the unreasonable option & idea. It may not feel safe nor may it feel comfortable, but it may actually be one or both when viewed correctly.