Sunday, April 12, 2009

What Darwin can teach us about Bootstrapping


Just like that in a flash of an eye great companies are created and industries are established full grown and mature, profitable and leaders in their field.

Really? People tend to forget that great companies like Southwest Airlines, The Virgin Group, Greenling Organic or SweetLeaf Tea where not created full grown by a big bang or pop out mature from the founders head in Zeus like fashion.

It all seems so pre-determined as people look a successful company and think in one swift moment the idea, concept and fully matured plan and practice came together and in an act of spontaneous generation these innovative companies came to be at the advanced stage they discovered them at. That's where the false myths appear and debilitate potential entrepreneurs who think they also must birth an institution straight from their head to reality with a flick of the wrist.

Very few notice the work of Ideation and the entry into Valley of Death to even figure out which direction one should walk in to start the journey, the constant stumbling around in the fog of try, fail, retry, succeed, try, fail, retry, succeed...

Evolution and bootstrapping are very similar.

It all starts with ammonia and phosphoric salts, lights, heat, electricity, etc. in the primordial soup of Ideation. Then out of chaos innovation evolves when a protein compound is chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes. Until homosapien the entrepreneur arrives at the growth stage of his business mature and profitable but only after his journey through the valley of death where things not needed by his evolving venture disappear and the mental models that keep him from the needed adaptations to come to life.

The other types of entrepreneurship can be compared to cloning (cookie cutter) or genetic engineering (funded) Both which are attempts to accelerate the evolutionary process. Both methods are done with some measure of success how ever there can be some very dangerous side effects and unintended consequences.

Such as with the funding driven model the intent of injecting cash to support the effort through valley of death to growth can insulate the nascent organization and allow it to persist when it should fail, or if not fail, be taking harder knocks than might be the case when it's protected by funding. Both the genetic engineering and cloning processes interfere with the natural order- which in this case would be the natural creative process of the founder. Bootstrapping lives in
the world of natural selection, the other approaches try to defy it.

In the end we have seen the healthier more sustainable path is organic growth which allows the fertile soil of innovation to be the driving force and customer demand the fresh water and sunlight that all truly great companies need to remain innovative, grown at a healthy organic and sustainable rate and bear the rich, delicious and abundant fruits of profit!

ps-Oh yeah in case your are wondering... The gasses in the Primordial Ideation soup come from the beer and nachos during the youPlusU conversation ;)

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