July 15, 2009

Lord Of The Flies: The Business Model

You may have studied the William Golding classic in school but it may be worth a re-read. The story is about a group of young boys stranded on an island. They begin to work as a team to find ways to survive and ultimately get rescued.


If you have ever been involved in a start-up, you know the rush of co-creation and collaboration that washes over everyone. It’s all for one and all that rosy happy stuff. The room is crammed of lollipops and rainbows.

Then someone spoils it all by taking charge.

It is our basic human need to eat, stay warm, be safe and belong to a community. Researchers have proven for years that humans simply don’t do very well on their own for long periods of time.

There are recent studies surrounding that issue with regards to social media. If you spend too much time at the computer “socializing” without actually talking or spending time with others, you can cause some pretty significant damage.

Mob Rules.
...or does it?


Lord of the Flies is an examination of how the group eventually needs a leader and in most communities that often means two candidates must fight for ultimate power. It’s also the reason why most successful ventures have two leaders.

One-time adversaries could find the right mix of similarities and differences to in-turn use them to compliment the project. Small partnerships that build companies from humble beginnings is a favored path. Jobs-Woz, Page-Plant, Allen-Gates are a few examples.

Herding the cats

In the book – and movies – the boys on the island do their best to govern themselves. They are stuck, they need to eat, they need to build shelter and it requires everyone to pitch in.

Ralph is the first to lead as another character nicknamed Piggy finds a conch and suggests it be used to hold group meetings – a megaphone of sorts.

Meanwhile the competitive Jack begins to see Ralph as a threat and the shell fish shell as a badge of honor and power.

Yeah team!

While you’d think survival of the group is most important, labels begin to emerge. The small kids are the littluns and the older kids are the biguns. There are Ralph supporters and there are the Jack supporters. The whole thing is a mess.

Does this resemble a business situation you are in
or have been in? What is your solution?


@knealemann
knealemann at gmail dot com

Let’s create experiences, not campaigns.

photo credit: nelson entertainment

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