Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Large vs. small companies.

Most large organizations are similar -- it just takes forever to get anything done and you have to negotiate with (beg of?) several people. Things are inefficient. Things move slowly. People don't care one way or the other most of the time.

This is not a defect in the system. Rather it is intentional. Reason (well, my hypothesis) -- large corps are merely trying to stay in business, not necessarily trying to innovate constantly. Their existence is not threatened every day. Accordingly they are optimized for continuity / stability than for efficiency / churn.

Startup life is arguably better -- you get to discuss strategy more than you get to do so as a corporate employee, (but orders of magnitude less than the founders and executive management). Eg: Today the CEO and two of us were talking about the business model of another startup, over lunch. That is typical.

As romantic as a startup sounds, for the founders it is actually a lot of infrastructure activity and for research-y types, often boring -- sales, marketing, fund raising, coding, tech work, hiring. Marc Andreessen has has a wonderful blog series on Silicon Valley startup culture.

However, for the employees, the work itself is far more focused than a corporate job, so you won't get diversity in what you do. The agenda is set in stone by the business plan and the CTO and there is no scope to budge an inch outside of that.

Instead, stay in a corporate job, and use the corporate setup to your best advantage -- get your immigration sorted out, read, travel, get some continuing education or personality development courses, pick up new skills or hobbies. That'll keep you excited and reduce your boredom.. :)

Here is an interesting thought -- On the Dilbert blog, recently Scott Adams recommended trying to get in the top quartile of the population in 2+ different things and then co-relate them, thus making a niche for oneself. He was in the top quartile of three things -- comedy and cartoon/drawing and knowledge of business culture. In any of the individual areas 25% of the people are better than him but in the intersection (Dilbert cartoon strip) he is easily in the top 1%.

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