The meeting date finally came into view and attendance was better than some; we were at least above 50%, so I guess one could say we had a quorum. That would become important as we had decisions to make. Tonight would be an interesting turn of events.
After a brief review of some new and interesting design variations of prototypes, we began to settle-down on some of the better designs. Not that the others were not good; most were along the lines of an evolution of design that led to a better working-model.
Two new designs surfaced that were clearly different than the evolutionary ‘knock-off’ of others. Even with such a small group, there may be no end to the possibilities. Experience has shown me that can lead to problems – at this rate it could be a long time before agreement would be reached on the ‘winning’ design– people’s self-interests are at stake (e.g., satisfaction, appreciation, accolades, etc.). Let’s face it; we all want to be the one who came forth with ‘the next great idea’.
Unbeknownst to the rest of those present, two of us had spun-off on a fact-finding, market validation mission. We chose to test the feasibility of some of the designs with those whom we knew in industry that could weigh-in on the potential market value of the concept, and preliminary designs (prototypes).
Disclosing our findings to the rest of the group ensued a completely new discussion. It soon became one of those “rubber meets the road” dialogues, i.e., coming together as a formal and disciplined organization. Topics like provisional patents, forming corporations, seed money, et al. quickly bantered about. I was fine until the discussion turned to “We need to pull together a Business Plan.”
I could feel my insides cry out, “No; not a Business Plan. That can take forever and we already have confirmation what we have will work.” Maybe it was the fact I had been up since 3 a.m. – there is a six-hour time change for me when I talk to Germany – or, the possibility that I had just read a Fortune magazine article on Warren Buffett (“What Warren Thinks” – 04/28/2008). In the article he is quoted as saying that they made a $500 million (USD) investment that turned into $4 billion five years later by just reading the annual report.
I had visions of a not too distant client experience whereby we put nearly 200 man-hours into a product launch document. Where I saw delays, thankfully someone else in the group called me into “check”. In fairness to the group, they weren’t looking for the depth and breadth of a Business Plan for a growing company. They were looking for a framework and accountability. So, a couple of brave souls came forward and volunteered their time to put one together within the next two weeks – which, by the way, sounds like a pretty aggressive timeline to me.
As we turn to the Business Plan, I am eager to watch it develop as a collaborative effort. The challenge will rest in the ability to represent the interests of a disparate group of people (individuals vs. a corporate entity) sharing a common goal. Not just the financial interests that may be required to launch this endeavor; this includes roles and responsibilities to making this a functional, emerging enterprise. If one thinks the Business Plan may be a challenge, just wait until we get to the election of Officers of the Corporation.