Are you built for the big company? Take a tip from Ripley
I like synchronicity. Every so often I have a day where after meeting a few different people, by sunset several of the topics and ideas we’ve discussed seem to connect and interweave as if by magic.
This could just be coincidence or my biases at work, but I believe it’s something more than that – something closer to the adjacent possible.
I had one of these days a few weeks ago.
After a sneaky late afternoon cocktail with the founder of a new marketing consultancy, I went to a bar around the block to meet a chap who works in a well known media company.
Alongside weddings, craft beer and other typical lines of conversation for men in their 30s, we talked about startup life vs that of a big corporation.
He had worked in bigger companies before and felt he now preferred life at a relatively small organisation. Meanwhile his wife worked at one of the biggest tech companies in the world and absolutely loved it.
He said the reason for this was simple: she was able to handle the big company exoskeleton.
An image from Aliens immediately popped into my mind. You may remember Ripley’s ability with the power loader exoskeleton; first to surprise a couple of sceptical marines, and then to dispose of a Xenomorph through the airlock.
The power loader is an intimidating bit of kit. It looks like it needs its pilot to have serious physical strength and brawn. This may be somewhat useful, but what’s more important is dexterity, patience, and rhythm.
When used effectively, it can handle enormous pressure, apply huge leverage, make big efficiencies and deflect all but the most damaging blows.
Use it carelessly, and it’s a blundering, flailing hulk with no agility and in desperate need of a makeover.
Ironically, one of the biggest problems large companies have is actually the dismissive marines. They’re skilled and to be respected, but sometimes they can be egotistical, elitist, focused on the pay check ahead of the mission, and at risk of being seriously caught out in a rapidly changing world.
So if you want to succeed in a big organisation, it may help to think more like Ripley.
And why the synchronicity that day?
My Tuesday cocktail was with the founder of a female-run consultancy called Ripley, named after…well, who else?