Skin in the game

I’m a huge fan of Nassim Taleb – especially his Black Swan Trilogy (Fooled by Randomness, Black Swan and Antifragile).  It struck me recently that perhaps the biggest obstacle I’ve had to face in selling ideas, obtaining funding and building new businesses is that the people around me don’t have skin in the game – or perhaps more accurately – they only have exposure to the negative effects of failed entrepreneurship.

They see internal entrepreneurship as a concave problem – the up-side being very limited and the downside being potentially exponential.  If they support a new venture that fails (like most do), they get hit with the shrapnel.  If it hangs around too long without being shut down or taking off, the not-so-subtle organizational passive aggression and credibility problems hit them.  If it takes longer and/or costs more than expected (as almost all ventures do), they lose.  And, if it actually works, they often will be forgotten as it becomes the new center of attention and everyone piles on – and their incentives are almost always pre-defined around mature business metrics, so they don’t participate.


Bad (typical) Big Co Innovation


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