Carol Bartz, president and CEO of Autodesk, Inc., argues that entrepreneurship is more important in large companies. The companies that survive do so because they know how to innovate, take risks, and reward risk-taking organizational behavior and structure.
Bartz talks about a slogan inside Autodesk called fail fast forward to counter a fear of failure within an established organization. Their goal was to have employees understand that failure is very acceptable within an established organization-the key is to identify it quickly, and move forward with lessons learned. This is an attempt to break free from those who are worried about risk-taking.
Bartz argues that you should learn how to pick your self up, be scared and cover it up, or be emotional and show it at different points in your life. The younger you learn, the better off you are. Do not be something you are not, she says, learn who you really are.
Bartz argues that you must understand how a company is run. Life is about horizontal and lateral moves. She also talks about the various positions she has held in the past, from analyst to VP of customer service. By the time she became CEO, she had acquired a strong background in various fields.
Bartz discusses Buzzsaw.com, a company created to provide a hosted environment for the construction industry. Because Autodesk had no experience in the construction industry, the company spun out Buzzsaw and then bought it back after a successful fundraising round with VCs.
How do you seek out and promote quality leaders from within a company? Leaders are often self-selected from peers, Bartz says. On way to identify them is to set up a management meeting and tap into the different groups across the company and note who gets picked to represent the individual groups. Usually, these are your leaders. Because they are easy to work with and are creative, they are sought out as leaders at whatever level they are in. No one wants to work with an asshole, however qualified they may be.
Bartz talks about how people who failed within Buzzsaw, were often given new projects to work on. Failure was valued, she says. Rather than criticizing projects that failed, Bartz notes how people wanted to apply the knowledge they learned from mistakes into new projects.