Tackle the big problems

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At the ScotlandISDeveloper Conference and Business Forum this year we were treated to a fantastic after dinner close by Sir Frank Dick. As well as amusing and thought provoking anecdotes he had a lot of motivational points that rallied the room to be confident and make the change we want to see in the world.

As I think about my next Business potentially being global this particular point sticks in my mind:

No point of going into the world arena if you don’t intend to win

So go out there and solve the big problems – don’t wait for someone else!

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One final achievement for Kotikan

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It’s been over a year since we sold Kotikan to FanDuel – it was an emotional journey to move on from what we had spent so many years building. And working in a team with so many great people too. I’m glad that most of my colleagues are still working at FanDuel – they even won another Webby Award this year!

But life moves on. Even after leaving FanDuel myself I couldn’t quite get my thoughts in order enough to write too much about it – and looking at my blog the only entry over that time was about the decision to leave, nothing about what we had created or what it was like to be part of the selling process. I guess it was either too recent in my mind or too separate from what I was moving on to that the opportunity to write passed me by.

Then one day Gav Dutch tells me that Kotikan has been short listed for “Sale of the Year” at the Deals & Dealmakers Awards 2016 – wow! I was blown away. It’s incredible to think that our humble company, built by many folk doing it for the first time and all of us learning as we went, has been short listed alongside business names from a completely different world. Wish us luck on the night – partly because it would be great to win but also because I’m not sure I’ll keep up in conversation!

The “I only know people who voted X” effect

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Sadly one of the biggest issues with social media and the “relevance” algorithms is that we each only see (for the most part) posts from people who share our own views. What this means is that Facebook, Twitter and the like are (maybe indirectly) more in control of the campaigning than those who are trying to disseminate a message. This makes social networks a very dangerous and polarising platform for political debate.
When will people wake up to the fact that having corporations in charge of our “free speech” is dangerous. We need a free and open platform for conversations and information sharing – a truly open inter-network maybe ;).

Please think before you allow your mind to be made up by what an app or website tells you what to believe in!

Why do companies revert to hierarchy?

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A question that I’ve asked myself many times over the last couple of years has resurfaced in light of the recent GitHub restructuring. Why do companies resort to hierarchy? So many set out with the grand ambition of keeping a flat structure – and many manage for a long time. People are happy, they are respected, communication is good and everyone can contribute to the future of the company in meaningful ways.

But with almost predictable inevitability it is at some point decided that structure is required to make the company more efficient. Whether it’s at 50, 100 or 500 people (which is a surprising spread of company sizes), visibility decreases and communication falters in a way that seems to say “we need structure” – but why; and is it even true?

So many traditional business experts seem to consider the way that start-ups organise themselves to be cute or naive and, whilst potentially fun, doomed to failure. Is there only 1 sensible way to structure a business? Or is there something significant we should be learning from the new generation of young companies desperate to prove that it can be done another way?

From my own experiences I know that it’s easier to go with the status quo. But I can’t figure out the reason why the flat structure becomes too much hard work. If there is a clear understanding of responsibilities and an efficient communication channel why can we not have a company made of many small teams that are themselves still operating as a start-up would?

Maybe it’s just a pipe dream but I’d be interested in finding out if anyone has made it work, or understands why it fails…