Friday, 12 February 2010

Creating and sustaining big visions – is this the real answer to success?

I have long felt that unless we get inspired by the notion of solving big problems or finding things that are meaningful to accomplish there is little to sustain a venture. Sure you can go in a tread through the daily grind of buying and selling, making and promoting or playing small games, but to what end?
One sentence in a book I found in an Ashram – I think – has done more to keep me focused than almost anything else I have come across and to paraphrase this sentence – it is “when the mind is full of little thoughts – where is the space for big ideas”?
It is in this context that I responded to a suggestion by David Carter – a colleague in the Chemical Engineering Department – who kindly also offered to talk to the theme of a need for big visions. As I rambled my way through his suggestion and developed my own view of how best to position this in the minds of nascent entrepreneurs – it seemed obvious! Invite the CEO of the most iconic company in the Cambridge cluster and ask for his views on the notion of big visions.
Fortunately – Warren East has agreed and so I look forward to his talk on Enterprise Tuesday on the 23rd Of February. He has agreed to talk about the vision as it was shaped in the early days of ARM – from a collection of a dozen engineers who had to survive the demise of Acorn Computers, through to the shaping of an ambition by an emergent team led by Robin Saxby to now – when ARM has decided to take on the “Elephant in the room” – Intel!!
I have met some of Warren’s colleagues who – rightly suggest that ARM is inside Intel already – as the latter are clients of ARM. Business strategy in recent times has led to Intel seeking to acquire ARM. meanwhile ARM is growing from strength to strength - see Warren's comments about the prospects from growth as a result of new products from Apple.

So – was the threat of being lost inside a major multinational – the threat of being squashed by the elephant the stimulus that ARM needed to restate their ambitions – to create the next big vision for growth of the business?
Warren will address some of these topics along with his own sources of inspiration – those that have given him his insights and confidence to take ARM to the next level.
Before we have Warren’s talk and opportunity to ask him tough questions – we have Professor John Mullins (the week before) giving us a reality check by asking if in our plans for new ventures we have a Plan B and helpfully telling us what that looks and feels like. He will base his talk on his new book – based on extensive Silicon Valley experience. He and his co-author Randy Komisar who is Partner at Silicon Valley's leading Venture Capital organisation - Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Incidentally Randy is also author of a best seller - The Monk and the Riddle.

John is a thought leader, a Prof at London Business School and a serial entrepreneur/investor. I am looking forward to his talk as I am engaged in building out an early stage business myself – having raised a second round of funding to cross the chasm from being a research based company to a fully fledged business looking for revenues and customers! Do we need a Plan B?