Friday, February 29, 2008
The New Sources of Advantage
Interestingly, Fred talks about conviction as a trait that makes a great investor.
I think there's a deeper lesson. A deeply felt sense of conviction is something that makes a great company.
Unfortunately, it's something most companies, as they've become corpocracies, have lost. Most companies have nothing - nothing - they won't sell out.
In fact, being "corporate" has meant, for the last hundred years, exactly that: the willingness to compromise your conviction for cash.
That's nothing short of insane: it's a totalitarian kind of economic nihilism.
And so is it really any surprise that we're discovering that this kind of defective DNA creates little real, durable value?
In the edgeconomy, the game is very different. Anyone can sell out like that - in the blink of an eye. It's the ability to do the opposite that's a very real source of advantage.
Something we'll be discussing in detail at my HBS blog soonish.
Well it boils down to a simple question that Ann Winblad had asked of us: who is (are) your paymaster(s)? And increasingly the shareholder and p/e ratios are dictating the direction a corporation is going.... companies have customers and corporations have shareholders.
On the principle that corporations are legally defined as 'human beings'; surely the difference between a company with successful DNA and one without is the same as the difference between a decent human being and arsehole? Not to put it too bluntly.
If a corporation says one thing, does another, and expects you to always do things to their benefit - indeed, actively encourages you to, you'd hate it - same as you would with a person. On the other hand, if a corp treated you more like a friend would, then you'd trust it, and like it, nay, maybe love it.