Tony Mendez: “There are only bad options. It’s about finding the best one.”
Warren Christopher: “You don’t have a better bad idea than this?”
Jack O’Donnell: “This is the best bad idea we have, sir, by far.”
Technical entrepreneurs are often faced with two challenges that they find take them out of their comfort zone:
- Negotiating with people: people are unpredictable in ways that hardware/software systems and natural phenomena are not. While systems may have hidden properties, people often have complex motives and needs that can make their behavior hard to predict.
- Selecting the least unsatisfactory option when events dictate a choice be made: this is not triage, this is making the best of a bad situation (making lemonade when life has handed you lemons). Very little in formal technical education addresses this challenge and the temptation is to defer making a decision until a better option can be developed.
I addressed this for software roadmaps in “Making The Trains Run On Time”
A software roadmap is a complex multi-party treaty, negotiated not only internally between sales, marketing, support, development but externally with customers and other interested parties. It’s not a real plan until everyone is somewhat dissatisfied.
The challenges of managing a roadmap are exacerbated by politics in a large organization, while startups often wrestle with the significant uncertainties of if and when prospects–each with their own needs–are going to close.
Here is a YouTube clip of opening quote: