AlgorithmI’ve just read an article in a recent copy of Wired Magazine about the last 10 years that changed the world. They look at the 10 years since the Netscape IPO (1995) and the people/companies that changed the world (from an internet perspective). Obviously Google is a company they look at, and there were a couple of thoughts that captured my imagination. They spoke about the algorithm that created Google. Two dudes at Stanford looking for a doctoral thesis that turned into Google. What captured my attention was not the algorithm, but what Google is becoming. Google has left their algorithm and moved to leveraging what they’ve created. Let’s face it, if you visit Google’s web site you quickly realise that they’re so much more than the amazing search engine they’ve created.
And I started asking questions of companies I work in and with. How many of them successfully move beyond their ‘algorithm’, the thing that made them, to leveraging the opportunities they created? It seems to me that success doesn’t sit with improving the algorithm, but what you do down the road. There’s nothing wrong with bettering the algorithm, and I think that’s where most companies play. But if you want success you need to move beyond.

Those are the stories we love to read. Example – Richard Branson moved way beyond the student newspaper and the mail order music company, to the over the top, challenge the status quo, in your face business Virgin has become. Kazaa moved beyond the file sharing, free software piracy company it had become to Skype, recently sold to E-Bay for potentially over $4 Billion. And there are many like that in many industries.
It’s an interesting framework to ask of any company. What is your algorithm? And then where do the opportunities sit that the algorithm creates? I suppose that ensuring the success of the algorithm is as important, because you don’t want to lose the energy that made you, and therefore how do you do both? Do you need to identify people to keep the original algorithm constantly improving, and then people to leverage the opportunities? That becomes a massive challenge in and of itself.
Nuf Sed.

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