by Mrs Logic
Beancounter 1: “Our new widgets business — we think it’s amazing”.
Beancounter 2: “We’ve ridden the learning curve, the product mix is optimized, the supply chain’s streamlined, the market’s tightly segmented.”
Beancounter 3: “But we’ve got a burning question for you, Umair — will it scale?”
UH: “You know what doesn’t scale? The point. Dudes, welcome to the 21st Century. It’s so not about pushing more toxic junk at people.”
Beancounters 1, 2, and 3: (enraged, attack UH with pitchforks).
That’s what happened to me not so long ago in one of the anonymous boardrooms of the universe. And it’s happened quite a few times over the last few months. So in the interest of my own personal safety, let me explain the scale every business should strive for today.
Here’s what the economic historians of the 23rd Century are going to say about the 20th.
“They built giant, globe-spanning organizations, that employed tens of thousands of people working around the clock, to produce… sugar water, fast food, disposable razors, and gas guzzlers. Perhaps the defining characteristic of the paradigm of 20th Century capitalism was its astonishing lack of ambition. Rarely in history has such a void, a poverty of imagination been so deeply woven into the fabric of humankind’s economic systems.”
Some of these ideas may be too radical but I really think that a big problem in the biotech arena is too little ambition. Start-ups no longer dream of changing medicine. They dream of a Big Pharma buy-out. And VCs act as enablers.
The big ambitions actually beats in the hearts of many non-profit research institutions. They want to change the world, ridding it of centuries old scourges in ways that can change cultures. Their ambition scales so nicely that it may really be successful.
And the companies that recognize this will be able to tag along, making a lot of money on the ambitions of the non-profits.