Rich Moran: Implementation is Not a Four Letter Word

This is a story that may or may not be true but I have used it many times. It is a fable about execution, not about talking and it goes something like this…

The first time Chrysler was about to go belly up in the 1980’s, Lee Iacocca was brought in as the CEO to save the Company. It was a grim situation and negativity was plentiful The entire employee population was depressed and there was little hope for improvement in the short term. Without government action, the Company was sure to go down the drain. The words are some of the same ones I have heard people use to describe the current economic situation in Ireland.

Iacocca, who had an eye and instinct for success, believed that if Chrysler could introduce a line of convertibles based on the body of its existing line of cars, he could breathe life into the Company and jump onto the path of success. He knew the key was to introduce the new soft tops quickly to show visible signs of progress. (VSOP)

He gathered the engineers who said it would take two years to redesign the chassis and struts to work the new roof design.

He gathered the manufacturing experts who claimed it would take eighteen months to retool the plants for a new design. He gathered the designers who said it would take two years to coordinate the paint and colors for the cloth roof.

Iacocca listened and the next day gathered all the groups together for his response. The large group gathered in a room with one of Chryslers current models, a K car sedan, front and center. Iacocca wasted no time in his response: “Gentleman”, he roared, “I want you to cut the F#$#ing roof off the car.”

Chrysler introduced a line of convertibles shortly thereafter which sold very well and the Company was saved. What does this story have to do with Ireland and her economy? Ireland needs to cut the roof off its own car. The “car” in the case of Ireland is the innovation engine.

There have been a lot of meetings. There have been many calls for a sense of urgency. There has been what we might call in the Silicon Valley a “false sense of urgency.” That is, lots of activities but to what end? There are, no doubt, many initiatives under way to improve the economy, I am only suggesting here that we nudge one forward – that is to turn the innovation everyone talks about into companies. Start up companies that can be funded and built into bigger companies that can create an economy and more jobs.

Yes, we need to execute on the creation of companies based on the technologies that have been developed at all the colleges and think tanks and government agencies. We can build bridges between the Silicon Valley and all that has been pent up in Ireland for so long that might, just might get things rolling. Some say, “If there is no wind, row.” I say, never waste a crisis. The crisis in the current economy will allow us to take steps that will build an economy in Ireland for generations to come.

The Universities are willing to cooperate with each other and with venture capital firms for, maybe, the first time. Entrepreneurs in both the US and Ireland are willing to work together. And, not in the least, people in the Silicon Valley are ready to co-invest and create the relationships with the tech giants that builds companies. Now is the time.

A recent issue of Time magazine did a masterful job of describing the importance of higher education to the US economy. The same could be said of higher education in Ireland. “In a world where brainpower outstrips muscle power, where innovation trumps conformity, where the nimble and creative stand to inherit the earth, higher education is the key to the next American century. Forget the ivory tower: colleges and universities are the catalysts of economic development, stewards of public health, incubators of social policy and laboratories of discovery. Nearly every great national challenge – from the raising of our children to the quality of our food supply, from the hunt for clean energy to the struggle against insurgent enemies, from the quest for opportunity to the search for sustainable prosperity – depends for a solution on institutions of higher ed.”

Great higher education is the first step and Ireland has that. We need to take the second step which is cooperation and funding from the government which will allow the venture world to create companies.

Richard A. Moran is a Partner at Irish Tech Capital and a Silicon Valley veteran. His latest book is Nuts, Bolts and Jolts.

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4 thoughts on “Rich Moran: Implementation is Not a Four Letter Word

  1. I just wish the positivity shown about the possibilities in Ireland could be shared by the Irish and the Irish government. We can get out of this mess but are still lacking the urgency and action to do so. This article is worth reading and sharing in the hopes that it will at least make you more positive and all of those whom you share it with

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  2. Hi Hillary,I think we need to stop waiting around and start building. People need to move their asses – and stop depending on the government to fix everything. There is only so much that the government can do.They have already done a lot with the building of several CSET’s around Ireland. People need to become more resourceful and more self-reliant and use their creativity.Ina

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  3. Your missing one thing Richard,the mind set of the people, I recently tried to setup a startup tech company in Belfast. The biggest challenge I faced was getting people to join the startup , help build the products and services and get it or the prototype into the marketplace and gain some traction. We will leave out the attitude and response from the local government.Everyone I spoke about joining the startup , asked how much am i getting paid. When they were all told , you do realize this is a start up tech company, we have to build the software, get it out there and go raise some investment. It did not matter that the start up was in a new business incubator, it did not matter that we had mentoring from California, it did not matter that we had an office and base on which to build from. They were all looking ££.All walked away , no money , no thanks.Maybe if the startup in the business incubator had even a small amount of seed funding it may have attracted some risk takers but then again are they the kind of people you want on your team those that are there just for the paycheck. I even spoke with software developers who were unemployed, I said what have you got to lose your already unemployed here is an opportunity to join the team take an equity share in the company and lets do some serious damage here on the world stage and make the most out of this business incubator.No thanks.I came home to N,Ireland at the end of 2008 at the end of 2010 I left again, I am now in the Republic Of Ireland. I am going to re-attempt to launch my company here. Lets see what happens this time round.Many people I have met are quite happy to work the steady job, the 9-5 civil servant type. Where as myself I am online dealing with people in multiple timezones. Many talented ambitious people pass on joining start up tech companies there is no local globally renowned companies like facebook or google that a young guy growing up is inspired by. There is not enough encouragement to try, try you might fail. So what if you do fail , what did you learn can it help you next time round. The more you try something the better you get.VC’s have a portfolio most may fail (hopefully not) or fold but one or two may hit and hit very big.I can honestly hold my hand up and say my genuine attempt to start my tech business in N.Ireland failed. I was trying to create something massive with a budget of 0. I was unable to get the right team together so I have left N.Ireland to try again elsewhere. I was publicly slammed as a failure by a well known local which really had no effect because I have no shame in trying to build a globally focused business and failing, young people in Ireland should not be a shamed of failing, you learn , you tweak and go at it again. It may take a couple of times but if you trying you will get there.You can have all the Universities & Investors and government programmes you want but unless the mindset and culture gets a big kick up the back side the efforts will not have the greatest impact that they could have.Successful Irish entrepreneurs should record a short video encouraging others to be innovative, try and launch a company and if it fails learn from it and why not try again.Love this quote ,”Winners lose much more often than losers. So if you keep losing but you’re still trying, keep it up! You’re on the right track.”

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  4. Your missing one thing Richard,the mind set of the people, I recently tried to setup a startup tech company in Belfast. The biggest challenge I faced was getting people to join the startup , help build the products and services and get it or the prototype into the marketplace and gain some traction. We will leave out the attitude and response from the local government.Everyone I spoke about joining the startup , asked how much am i getting paid. When they were all told , you do realize this is a start up tech company, we have to build the software, get it out there and go raise some investment. It did not matter that the start up was in a new business incubator, it did not matter that we had mentoring from California, it did not matter that we had an office and base on which to build from. They were all looking ££.All walked away , no money , no thanks.Maybe if the startup in the business incubator had even a small amount of seed funding it may have attracted some risk takers but then again are they the kind of people you want on your team those that are there just for the paycheck. I even spoke with software developers who were unemployed, I said what have you got to lose your already unemployed here is an opportunity to join the team take an equity share in the company and lets do some serious damage here on the world stage and make the most out of this business incubator.No thanks.I came home to N,Ireland at the end of 2008 at the end of 2010 I left again, I am now in the Republic Of Ireland. I am going to re-attempt to launch my company here. Lets see what happens this time round.Many people I have met are quite happy to work the steady job, the 9-5 civil servant type. Where as myself I am online dealing with people in multiple timezones. Many talented ambitious people pass on joining start up tech companies there is no local globally renowned companies like facebook or google that a young guy growing up is inspired by. There is not enough encouragement to try, try you might fail. So what if you do fail , what did you learn can it help you next time round. The more you try something the better you get.VC’s have a portfolio most may fail (hopefully not) or fold but one or two may hit and hit very big.I can honestly hold my hand up and say my genuine attempt to start my tech business in N.Ireland failed. I was trying to create something massive with a budget of 0. I was unable to get the right team together so I have left N.Ireland to try again elsewhere. I was publicly slammed as a failure by a well known local which really had no effect because I have no shame in trying to build a globally focused business and failing, young people in Ireland should not be a shamed of failing, you learn , you tweak and go at it again. It may take a couple of times but if you trying you will get there.You can have all the Universities & Investors and government programmes you want but unless the mindset and culture gets a big kick up the back side the efforts will not have the greatest impact that they could have.Successful Irish entrepreneurs should record a short video encouraging others to be innovative, try and launch a company and if it fails learn from it and why not try again.Love this quote ,”Winners lose much more often than losers. So if you keep losing but you’re still trying, keep it up! You’re on the right track.”I speak from my experience & mainly from a northern perspective.

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