Commercialization as a science

When you’re working with researchers and/or developers, it can be super easy to completely focus on the research, the science and the product it is all (potentially) leading towards and the inherent value herein. And that nothing else matters to your future success.

But that is a flawed assumption. Cool technology doesn’t cut it on its own. It needs a complete ecosystem around it to have any chance of succeeding.

Developing such an ecosystem is super tough. There are many moving parts that changes all the time. And when you account for the human factor, change of opinions, irrational decision making etc, it becomes extremely complicated very quickly.

Navigating and succeeding in that maze outside the lab is a science in itself. And it should be dealt with, rewarded and appreciated in just the same way as we have the deepest respect for those working behind the scenes to develop the technology.

It takes two to tango. It takes tech and commercial acumen to succeed.

One cannot exceed without the other. And vice versa.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Startup-life as football fan

People who know me well also know that for the past close to 30 years, I have nurtured a deep passion for Blackburn Rovers Football Club. (Heck, this season our Danish supporters club even have a first team player sponsorship between us).

From a distance I have witnessed ups and downs (and lets face it; the last 10 years have been most on the downslope), and I have felt both the joy and the pain of being so much into something you just passionately want to end up well.

When I think of it, I think that a lot of what you experience on the emotional side as a passionate fan is similar to the emotions you go through when trying to build and be successful with a startup;

A few times the team will be firing on all cylinders, dominate the opposition and score a plethora of goals to the extend that you almost get tired of winning.

Sometimes the team will be playing really well but be unable to get the ball across the line for a goal. Super frustrating times and instead of feeling you at least got a draw and a point, you will rue the two points lost from the win that was not to be.

Sometimes your team plays well for 88 minutes, commits a really howler – or the goalkeeper forgets he can use his hands – and you will loose at the death of the game.

Sometimes you will just get run over by a superior side, and the most important job is how to put it behind you and move ahead with confidence to the next game and the next opportunity.

And sometimes you will be able to pull off the upset of the season, but superior opposition – and have absolutely no idea how you did it but still delight from your triumph.

But most of the times the team will be in there battling back and forth over 90 minutes plus added time, feeling on top in some periods of the game and hugely under pressure during others. And the scoreline most likely won’t reflect the amount of effort put into achieving whatever boring result, you end up with.

But there’s still passion, energy and tenacity to get it right and ultimately win. And you never, ever lose hope that your team will prevail in the end.

(Photo: Blackburn Rovers Football Club)

Put yourself on the other side

Years ago I worked at Microsoft in an international role. I had a lot of dealings with US colleagues, and one thing that always puzzled me was how resistant they were to change or doing something differently.

That lasted until someone explained to me that in the US, the time is takes from a boss tells an employee he’s fired until the time, the employer is resolved from all obligations towards the unfortunate individual, is litterally the few seconds it takes to say “You’re fired”.

So when they resisted change, they were really just scared of potentially losing their jobs.

The experience made me realize that you always have to take a shot at trying to understand where the other side is coming from. Because while it can be super easy to get frustrated, there is usually an explanation behind it all; a context.

Sometimes it is even good and valid, and it always demands being treated with respect.

Does that mean that you should change the ways you think, the ideas you put forward and the way you see things being able to happen just to always suit the other side.

Not at all.

But it means you need to make sure that you don’t scare people off, so they jump to the wrong conclusions that could ultimately lead everything you’re working on astray.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Who’s your debriefer?

The documentary “The Mole” by Danish documentarist Mads Brügger about North Koreas dodging of UN sanctions is not only brilliant and important in its own newsworthy self. It also has an important lesson for entepreneurs.

In the documentary the importance of the debrief is touted; when you have been undercover and alone for years, you need to have someone you can talk to about your experience in order to get back to normal and – to some extend – keep your sanity.

I think the same goes for entrepreneurs;

Entrepreneurship can be an extremely lonely game. There are a lot of times, where the challenges are mounting, they need to get solved in a good way – and the only one on deck to make sure it happens is you.

It brings not only long, long hours. It brings sleepness nights. It brings detachment from your loved ones, because you’re thinking about the fix you need to come up with rather than be present in what you’re doing.

It is lonely. L-o-n-e-l-y.

A lot of time you may feel like you have little to win but everything to lose, and the pressure just build and build.

Unless you have an outlet for it. Someone to talk to.

Someone in charge of your debrief.

Someone on point to keep you track, sane and balanced in your life. So you can keep up doing what you’re doing (and most likely love doing anyway) without crashing against the wall.

So make sure you have a great debriefer in your life. It is that important.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Has digital really bombed?

Considering all the progress electricity, the combustion engine and other major breakthroughs generated inside 50 years of inception, digital still has very little impactful progress to show for it. At least that’s the argument, Greg Satell makes.

To some extend he is absolutely right. Even though some real breakthroughs have happened and made a lot of things easier – shopping, booking travel etc. – if you think about the money spent, the money wasted, real challenges uncovered and real challenges created by digital, you could argue that he has a point.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is still possible to put real challenges – global challenges – at the centre of digital innovation and have those as our guiding posts. It is just a matter of our will. Human will. Not digital as such. Digital is just an enabler. And a potent one at that.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Understand the machine

Launching an entirely new research area into machine behaviour as suggested by MIT Media Lab seems like an obvious good idea. Because the more we leave to machines, the better we need to understand the decisions those machines make, the rationale behind them and the impact they will have on our outcomes.

Forcing ourselves to understand machine behavior may also be the best backstop we have towards making sure that machines don’t completely take over in a ‘Terminator’-like scenario. Because even if we agree we should never get to that point, I am not overconfident that that isn’t exactly what could be happening a few decades from now (without necessarily resulting in the dystopian scenarios, Hollywood likes to present on the big screen, though).

It would also inject some much needed ‘softer’ fields of study into the world of engineering and computing, which I think we need. Not so much to keep things in check as to make sure that we really utilize technology to help us solving really big problems with a massive impact. While we, humans, remain firmly in control.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)