Building Companies That Fly

It’s a small world. Six points of separation being about three in my experience. Four at most. 

Which explains why as I boarded my flight from London to Nice last month on my way to Cannes, I found myself assigned a seat one row in front of one of my very good friends, Jerry Solomon. A quick seat negotiation later and we settled in for two plus hours of entertainment with nary a screen in sight. Good, old fashioned, provocative conversation.

I can’t remember if it was as we took off or landed that Jerry brought up something he’d heard about flying that captured the essence of flight in six words. But it struck me sufficiently to write it down. That is, I made a note in my iPhone.

I’ll come back to that.

When you’re building a business whose output must be absolutely reliable but whose existence is dependent on forces of nature, it takes significant organization and structure to fill the gap that naturally exists between the two.

Many, many creativity driven businesses adopt a different approach and throw vast amounts of manpower and energy to deal with the day to day stress of marrying the capacity of creative people and the needs of the client.

The result is that instead of building a lasting, and reliable business, they build a temporary and fragile business.

In the short-term it’s not obvious that this day-to-day approach is causing any permanent damage. But over-time the erosion of passion, enthusiasm, energy, and commitment that naturally occurs  as human beings evolve and grow has a devastating effect that is usually not visible until the organization is in free-fall and the future is coming at you like a freight-train.

Companies fail quickly in the creative industries. It’s the result of years of short-term decisions and a belief that our own energy supply is infinite.

Which brings us back to the essence of flight. And a description which, in my experience, also captures the risk of building creative organizations that operate with a short-term view.

Not inherently dangerous. But incredibly unforgiving.