I’ve saved the best gems from Eric Ries’s podcast episodes with Brian Chesky in Out of the Crisis till last.
I made notes:
Chesky: “Every single thing you do, you design it or it gets designed for you. And don’t expect that the organic process will yield the result that you’re happy with.”
Reis “The product you make is not your website, its not the travel, its not even the delightful experiences, the product is the organisation that brings stakeholders together to produce those outcomes.”
Chesky: “Think of your company as a product, as the most important product you’ll ever make. The more successful you are, the longer your company will exist. The longer your company will exist, the more your original product ideas will expire, and you’ll have to have an innovation engine to create many new products. So one of the hardest things is intitutionalising something.
Institutionalising basically means something that you want to happen, happens when you’re not in the room. Imagine having thousands of people, and you leave a room for years, and over the course of years, many things happen that you wanted to have happen, maybe even better than you ever would have thought. That’s what it means to institutionalise.”
I couldn’t agree more.
A business is a system for making and keeping promises, to all its stakeholders, for as long as possible.
To build it you have to start at the top, with values, principles, purpose. Then you write a score for how it does what it does. A score that helps new people learn what you’re about, that ‘institutionalises’ them quickly to your principles, and gives them plenty of latitude to deliver better, but not worse. A score that ultimately they are in charge of. Because you can’t always be in the room, even if you wanted to, and having everyone in charge makes it harder for the wrong people to hijack your product.
That’s what I call an autonomous enterprise – a business that will work on its own, without you, delivering the promise you make to people you’ll never meet.