A special note to those in small organizations

Do you ever think the grass is greener on the other side, in bigger organizations with bigger staff, bigger resources, bigger everything? Those in non-profits can sometimes feel this way. We wish we had the resources of the Fortune 500, especially the very profitable among the Fortune 500.

But the entrepreneurs who shared their business advice in Rework ask this:

Have you ever noticed that while small businesses wish they were bigger, big businesses dream about being more agile and flexible?

For those whose mission is to create change in the world, agility and flexibility are like air and water for survival. They allow responsiveness to take advantage of situations to influence. They let you act with speed, get your word out, meet the people you need to meet, and do the activities you need to do. Can very big organizations do this so well?

I thought of the small business/big business comment in Rework when I saw this headline: Microsoft is a dying consumer brand.

Who is changing what we do with computers right now? Who in the last few years has changed how we use the Internet? Think about that … they may be big now, but they weren’t when they started.

A few pages later, the Rework writers say:

To do great work, you need to feel that you’re making a difference. That you’re putting a meaningful dent in the universe. That you’re part of something important. … You should feel an urgency about this too. You don’t have forever. This is your life’s work. Do you want to build just another me-too product or do you want to shake things up? What you do is your legacy. Don’t sit around and wait for someone else to make the change you want to see. And don’t think it takes a huge team to make that difference either.

As evidence, they remind us of the story of Craigslist. Look how it “demolished the traditional classified-ad business.” Craigslist didn’t need a huge organization of employees to do that. A few dozen employees is all it took. With the help of all the rest of us, of course.

And that’s the thing. With a smaller team, Craigslist changed us. It changed how we do things, and then we all took the change forward.


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