Business by Committee

Later today I’m hopping in a car with Bear and heading north to see some friends. We’ve packed a tent and will be camping in one place or another–we don’t really know. Bear’s contribution to packing the tent has been to pace around me as I gather things–he knows something’s up.

The road trip frees the mind to think–if you do it right. I have a lot on my mind right about work and my next steps.

Yesterday I sat in a meeting about social enterprise. The committee wanted to create a business that would hire ex-offenders and teach them work skills and habits, plus give them something real for their resumes. And it would be run by one of the committee members’ organizations.

And that’s when I spoke up. They were building a business by committee, and assuming that an employee would take ownership like, well, an owner. And that seemed far-fetched to me. And they’d have to create a successful, sustainable business simply to create the opportunity to hire, which I like, but I wouldn’t bet on that arrangement getting them there.

It would be better to seek out the existing entrepreneurs, or new ones with the fire in the belly but perhaps a few obstacles. There’s something about that drive that you can’t expect from someone playing founder; you need a founder. We’re all flawed, we all make mistakes.

But there’s something that pushes us to work that extra half day when it’s needed, to wash the neglected window, to drive out to the smallest customer who had a bad experience because you screwed something up.

You can’t get that commitment through business by committee, unless you’re extremely lucky.

I came close to signing up as that entrepreneur, but my next gig will be my last tech gig, and I’m looking forward to whatever it is. The road trip will help me think these things through, and we’ll see if I start something new or join someone else’s thing in a leadership role. They both really appeal to me, but I’m guessing it’s obvious what I lean toward.

Time to finishing packing.

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