Christian Heilmann

Big companies are like marching bands

Friday, June 20th, 2008 at 5:37 am

I just read another amazing novel by Douglas Coupland on my 5 hour flight to Ankara called “Eleanor Rigby”. This is a quote I really enjoyed:

Jeremy asked if I liked my job.
“I think big companies are like marching bands. You know the big secret about marching bands, don’t you?”
“No, what is it?”
“Even if half the band is playing random notes, it still sounds kind of like music. The concealment of failure is built right into them. It’s like the piano – as long as you play only the black keys, not the white ones, it’ll sound okay, but on the other hand it’ll never sound like real music either.

Now this sounds negative, but I also like the idea that big companies can have failure without totally vanishing. That’s where research departments and incubators come in.

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