December 1, 2004
Excerpts: 10 Lessons from History's Innovators - Part VI
Lesson #5 - NOTHING WORKS THE FIRST TIME. An impatient society and media expect instant results. Wall Streets fetish with quarterly earnings makes it worse. Georges Doriot, the founder of venture capitalism, observed that too many bankers and counselors had forgotten the history of our industrial giants. The first fifteen years of companies and of human beings are very much alike hope, measles, failures, mumps, reorganizations, scarlet fever, executive troubles, whooping cough, etc., are part of ones daily life. His question for bankers and brokers who told him he should sell an ailing company was Would you sell a child running a temperature of 104? USAToday, Amazon.com and CNN ran fevers for years but came good because the basic ideas were sound. Innovation is often cut off too soon because backers fail to appreciate that it takes time to work out the wrinkles. See the Wright brothers. From the book THEY MADE AMERICA by Harold Evans, with Gail Buckland and David Lefer. (c) 2004 Little, Brown & Co.