Why the new has to be separate from the old
Getting better at getting better is what RiseWithDrew is all about.
Monday through Thursday we explore ideas from authors, thought leaders, and exemplary organizations. On Friday, I share something we are doing at PCI in our quest to earn a spot of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.
Our new business idea Running is Life is live on Kickstarter. It’s been a fun and interesting journey so far.
At PCI, we have developed a new capability while serving the higher education market: the ability to collect stories at scale.
The next question becomes: Outside of our core markets (education, associations), are there other people or groups of people who might like to tell and preserve their story?
The answer? Likely, yes.
Last February, we decided to find out. Our experience so far has been impacted by the great management thinker Peter Drucker. Entrepreneurship is not “natural,” Peter tells us in The Essential Drucker. Entrepreneurship is not “creative.” It is work.
“Entrepreneurial businesses treat entrepreneurship as a duty,” Peter observes. “They are disciplined about it. . . they work at it. . . they practice it.”
Peter believes innovating within an existing organization poses a specific challenge: “It is not size that is an impediment to entrepreneurship and innovation; it is the existing operation itself, and especially the existing successful operation.”
For an existing business to be successful with innovation, it requires a structure which allows people to be entrepreneurial.
“This means, first, that the entrepreneurial – the new – has to be organized separately from the old and existing,” Peter writes. “The best, and perhaps the only, way to avoid killing off the new by sheer neglect is to set up the innovative project from the start as a separate business.”
Because: “Whenever we have tried to make an existing unit the carrier of the entrepreneurial project, we have failed. One reason is that the existing business always requires time and effort on the part of the people responsible for it, and deserves the priority they give it. The new always looks so puny–so unpromising–next to the reality of the massive, ongoing business,” Peter observes.
“The people responsible for the existing business will therefore always be tempted to postpone action on anything new, entrepreneurial, or innovative until it is too late… The new belongs elsewhere.”
Simply put: “Do not make innovation an objective for people charged with running, exploiting, optimizing what already exists.”
Following Peter’s advice, we created a separate team to bring our new venture to life.
As CEO, I decided to dedicate a certain amount of my time to the project and brought on someone with experience and passion for storytelling. Next, we hired an innovative marketing firm to help with strategy and execution of our plan.
Initially, we explored a broad, umbrella approach where we would collect stories from different types of groups. Then, we decided to begin by going “all-in” on one specific area. We considered a number of alternatives before deciding on running. Once that decision was made, we looked at different brand names and identities before deciding on Running is Life.
I’ll check in periodically and report on our progress.
If you love running or know someone who is passionate about running, please check out our Running is Life Kickstarter Campaign.
We’d be honored to include your running story in our first Running is Life book — where it will live amongst hundreds of other powerful stories which show how and why “running is life.”
More next week!
Reflection: Think back on efforts to launch something new. What worked? What didn’t? What lessons can I learn from these past experiences?
Action: Journal about it.