Companies of the future: No CEO, no boss, managed by blockchain

Great article by Jeremy Epstein on VentureBeat that resonates with how I think. It’s about a Decentralized Autonomous Organization and it has no CEO, CFO, or VPs.

The article touched me in the same way “Permission Marketing” from Seth Godin touched me back in 1999. So it’s something that doesn’t happen often.

It comes at a time where I’m trying to explain to people what the fundamental difference is when it comes to running a cooperative organisation like Herculean compared to a traditional organisation. The article describes exactly what I mean, so I hope many people will read it before they decide to work with us.

It comes at a time where I got in conversation with the founders of Duval Union, another amazing cooperative entity. They shared a great article with us about Network Governance. The article states that Networked Organisations are great to use for “Wicked Problems“. They are great to drive innovation. They are fast and rely on trust.

These things come at a time where we are building teams of licence-holders all over the world. A time where we need to define our “way of working” to hundreds of people from partners to crew to suppliers.

I actually believe that our governance structure is what makes us so special. Of course we are great in organising Hercules Trophy, Academies en Projects. Of course we have amazing technology to drive our growth. But I believe the most important part is our DNA. It’s the people who work together and create amazing experiences without a strict hierarchical model to govern them. It’s a DNA, a set of values that defines whether you are a Herculean or not. Because of that DNA, the non-Herculeans eventually leave the organisation and new Herculeans join. Just to be very clear: it’s not because you don’t have our DNA, that you are a “bad” person! We are just not the right company for you.

You can read the complete article here. Underneath are some interesting extracts:

In fact, there’s no hierarchy at all. Of course, any time you bring people together in a group, there are bound to be politics, but it won’t be the “command and control” structure that most of us are used to.

What a DAO is

A DAO is a combination of computer code, a blockchain, smart contracts, and people. (Well, people, for now, at least, but that’s a topic for a different post.)

The founders of a DAO set up the basic governance rules of how it will work. For one example, see how Fermat explains it here.

The DAO has stakeholders who own tokens that represent a share in the performance of the DAO. Essentially, what those stakeholders want is an increase in the value of their tokens as reflected by increased demand.

The bottom line is that, in a DAO, instead of being hired as an employee, you are awarded a contract on a project basis. The Fermat project, for example, calls these ‘Contribution Contracts.”  Then, after discussion among the community members, the proposal is voted upon and, when passed, work can commence.

So, the incentive for everyone who contributes to a DAO is

  1. Get your stuff done
  2. Get it done with high quality
  3. Treat people with respect

After all, if you don’t do these things, your livelihood is threatened.

Start-up culture is corrupting our youth and killing real entrepreneurship

I came accross this article by Lukas Mikelionis on The Telegraph and I couldn’t agree more. For the record: it’s a “black-or-white” titles because they make us think and adjust where needed.

Imagine the sort of person that runs a start-up. How would you describe them? Probably using words such as “young”, “ambitious”, “innovative”. They probably embody that meaningless expression “nothing is impossible”. This is the problem with start-up culture: it has created a myth that has the power to ruin lives.

I know it might sound as a negative story, but it’s not. Believe me, I coach me kids to follow their dreams and coach them about “learning by doing”, but I also coach them about wisdom of the “old people” and “respect” and “savoir vivre” and “hard work”.

“Unfortunately this notion that it only takes a “killer idea” (preferably something based on an app) and just enough funding to conquer the innovation-hungry consumers is a lie. It goes against traditional business-making practice, where companies respond to the demands of consumers rather than the other way around. True, we all heard stories of successful innovators who indeed delivered revolutionary products to the consumers, but it’s perfectly reasonable to doubt that every millennial has the same trick up their sleeve.”

I probably sound very old school now, but I believe I’m where I am because I always surrounded myself with people who are older and wiser and took the time to absorb their experience and do better. Not because I found capital for my crazy dream. Finding capital is just a tiny part of realising that dream and it’s not too difficult either. So yes, I listen a lot to the opinions of grandma, mum, dad and experienced business people to make our platform bullet-proof.

Don’t get me wrong: I also listen a lot to the rookies in our team, or when I teach at Real Madrid Sports MBA or when I was a coach for the Founders Institute. I love their energy and disruptive thinking. I give them lots of opportunities but in the end I have to make sure that Herculean.coop becomes a global success and that won’t be achieved overnight.

“Even when true innovation happens, there’s increasing tendency not to attempt to create a business with a long-lasting plan, but instead chuck it towards larger corporations in exchange for a handful of cash. Business cards stating “serial entrepreneur” – those who move from project to project – are becoming a norm. The idea of nurturing a company is in terminal decline. In the past, making sure that the company is thriving and has a competitive edge used to be the defining aspect of good entrepreneurship. Nowadays, by contrast, selling your company for a life-changing sum of money is the mark of success. This breeds a new type of entrepreneurship, which centres on the short-term boom, and turns the creation of start-ups into an industry itself. Start-up culture shifted the focus away from company ownership to either “get rich by selling” or participating in never ending game of start-up creation.”

I get that question often: When will you sell? When will you exit? My answer is always the same: we are building a sustainable cooperative platform, a system, powered by Herculean people and we are trying to structure it with all the lessons learned in our many years of corporate experience, keeping into account the disruptive future ahead of us. It’s like raising a kid, and with 3 kids I know a thing or two about raising them and letting go 🙂 When the time has come to let go, I will, but let’s enjoy every step of the journey!

“When they go low, we go high”

My Third lady (Inge Van Belle is my First and my mum Second :-)) gave an epic speech about values and beliefs. I couldn’t agree more and thought it was more than appropriate to store it as “one of those moments”.

The more perceived “success” you have, the more people will “go low” on you. Don’t fall into the trap and just ignore the hateful. Go high instead! Stay true to your values and beliefs. Lead your Herculean life, don’t sit back, make a difference and never ever quit.

Successful vs Unsuccessful people

Many people or even other companies believe that they will become successful by hitching their wagon to a successful company. That’s the worst nightmare of any company as I believe nothing could be further from the truth.

I believe that success highly depends on yourself and that successful companies are created by successful people who create a culture for success together, based on believes and common values. So in fact, it’s the other way around. You need successful people to create amazing customer experiences and build successful companies.

Just like any other company, we constantly struggle with “how to know if somebody’s going to be successful?”. In fact, as we have cool products, it’s even more difficult because people really believe Herculean’s success is “easy” to achieve. They don’t grasp how much hard work and suffering is required to be part of our team.

Nobody wants to hire people who will run into a brick wall eventually. It’s a waste of energy and if you hire too many unsuccessful people, it can even jeopardise a successful company. Believe me, I had my share too over the past 20 years.

So, can you know? We now use techniques like personality types and core talents and interviews with our core team and coaches to reduce the risk, but even then you can’t be 100% sure of a person because a lot depends on the person himself every single day. Unsuccessful people are pretty good in covering up for their bad habits. However, successful people have a great radar to discover the frauds out there (they just have to trust their radar, but that’s another topic). So my believe is:

  • test enough before you start
  • build in a trial and make it clear it’s a trial with clear personal objectives
  • follow them closely, get them out of their comfort zone to see how they react, go through a crisis together and nurture open communication
  • hire them when you are 200% sure they are successful people
  • if you see during the process they are unsuccessful, don’t hesitate to say goodbye or even better: let them make their own conclusion (increasing pressure usually does the trick). You are doing yourself and them a big favor. For sure, they will complain, hold grudges and speak bad about you, but the longer you wait the more they actually will. Don’t worry about the grudges and gossip. Just worry if successful people do that.
Can unsuccessful people be coached into success? Probably, but as Georges Anthoon would say:
I recently saw a post from my dear friend Bev Mileham, which is a pretty good comparison to help you discover who is successful and who isn’t:

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So, are you successful? Have a Herculean day!

 

Speed as a habit

People who work with me on a daily basis know one of my firm believes: “the need for speed“. I can become quite “passionate” when things don’t go faster than I expected or when people don’t understand they can do things a lot faster than they think. Every day I make it my mission to speed up the way things go in my daily tasks, but also within our team.

I know…it can feel like a lot of pressure, but if I don’t give you pressure, I probably don’t believe you can grow any further, so stop complaining and deal with it. You would be surprised about the speed you can reach.

Here’s a very nice article that illustrates why speed is a great weapon in business.

If you really want to change the world

This one’s on my wishlist. Did anyone read the book already?

Silicon Valley’s latest trend for creating new ventures is based on trial and error: test market needs with new product concepts and a minimum amount of capital, expect that the product may not meet the market need, so fail fast and try another product with the hope that a product-market fit will eventually emerge.

But this fail fast, step-and-pivot philosophy is like taking a random walk in the forest without a compass. “If You Really Want to Change the World” is about helping entrepreneurs find true north.

Henry Kressel and Norman Winarsky–technologists, inventors, and investors with stellar track records–provide a guide for those who wish to create a market-leading company that will have a real impact: a disciplined and staged approach they have used to launch, invest in, and develop scores of highly successful companies. “If You Really Want to Change the World” leads entrepreneurs through the critical stages of venture development, from concept to acquisition or public offering to maintaining a rich culture of innovation in the company. It is a guide by innovators for innovators, with approaches that are practical and timeless. Drawing on the authors’ experiences as well as those of their partners from around the world, Kressel and Winarsky share the stories of their triumphs and misses, demonstrate their method in action, and inspire their readers in the process. There are more opportunities now than ever before to build breakthrough companies that touch millions of lives. If this is your goal, let this book be your guide to creating world-changing ventures.

Why The Annual Performance Review Is Going Extinct

Employees don’t need annual performance reviews to know how they stack up against their peers says Kris Duggan on FC.com. I couldn’t agree more. At Herculean, we believe in three simple things when it comes to building breakthrough teams. They are based on The Orange Revolution:

  • WOW: go for worldclass
  • Open Communication: no surprise
  • Cheer each other to victory

When you practice open communication, everybody knows at all time how they are performing. They not only know it from their boss, but from all their peers. Read the complete article here.