I keep falling in love with these cheap guitars

The guy who sold them to me does, too. I’ve now bought a second one from him in the past 12 months.  I met this seller on Craigslist last March. The first one I bought remains one of my favorites to play a year later.

“Inexpensive” is a better word for these guitars than cheap. The latest one plays well and stays in tune. It’s pretty, red and sounds great.

A Tale of Two Teles
A Tale of Two Teles

The seller’s name is Dave. The story he tells is that he picks them up from a small custom shop in Nashville. Pressed for details, Dave says “It’s just a guy working out of his basement.” I think he builds them himself. He shouldn’t feel the need to make up stories. These are fine, playable guitars.

My feeling is he buys them half-made or just gets the parts, finishes them, plays with them awhile then sells them off for money to repeat the process. To me, what he charges makes the purchase of them frictionless. To him, he makes enough to buy, finish, play and sell again. Even if he does eat a bit of cash on each, his wife said it’s better than him drinking or womanizing.

They don’t have a name on them — they “ought” to say Fender or carry another big brand on the headstock. That’s why Dave might be telling stories. Big brands are great to have — I own a Fender and a Gibson and believe in their value. At the same time, Dave has now sold me two guitars. I’m enjoying both of them. The process is part of the enjoyment — sitting in his dining room, playing through different amps, having Dave disappear into another room and bashfully bringing back Yet Another Guitar from his unseen collection. Dave is now a brand.  Weather he’s buying, building, or both, he’s won my admiration and my dollars. Fenders and Gibsons hold their positions, and Dave joins them in his own place.


Fostering New Thinking within Organizations

Injecting new thinking into existing organizations, from within the organization itself, is difficult. Even when the need for “thinking different” is plain, entrenchment – of process, people, expectation – make diverging from set paths a chore. One entrepreneurial speaker is seeing an encouraging trend:

Eric Ries, the driving force behind the “lean startup” movement, which encourages high efficiency and meticulous metrics tracking within entrepreneurial ventures. Ries … noticed a trend among some of the people attending his talks. Many managers from large companies were coming to his sessions to learn what they could, because, as Ries discovered, the principals of lean startups can exist within larger corporations that are attempting to innovate.

Thinking Inside the Box: Eric Ries On Creating Startups Within Large Organizations

Efficiency and metrics tracking – and you can’t achieve one without the other – shouldn’t be  solely the realm of the entrepreneur – they’re core to any successful business.

“The real value is [this] starts to catalyze change because by changing the way you work you start to accelerate that feedback loop […] and that can become the basis for making other changes,” Ries says.

Companies could also benefit … by inspiring their existing employees to be innovative, instead of wrangling up entrepreneurs from a startup, which would save them money in the end.

[17:38] idee?Creative Commons License photo credit: westpark
Paving the way for New Thinking helps
New ideas presented from within an organization can be met with derision, resentment and the entrenchment mentioned above – the reason there’s a consulting industry generally isn’t because  organizations don’t have the talent and ideas aboard already. In my experience, those things usually *are* there. The reason outsiders are brought in is to help those ideas get a foothold and succeed.

It’s almost unfortunate, but many times outsiders are brought in because insiders haven’t gotten it done. It’s not that they weren’t capable; it’s that they didn’t. Without assistance, there’s little to reason to believe this will change. So “fresh eyes” come in to help. Those new perspectives can be brought in even from other parts of the larger organization – the point of the exercise is to make time to think specifically about what your processes are, why they are that way, and what the team can do to improve them.

(Management) “have this idea that a certain alchemy will happen that ‘if I bring these special people into my organization, they will teach my regular people how to be special,’ and that’s just a formula for breeding resentment,” Ries told ReadWriteWeb. “If the people doing the acquiring had more of a theory about how entrepreneurship is supposed to work […] they could start to think of better ways to plug an acquired company into the larger organization, taking advantage of what they’re good at without destroying it.”

Read more of Thinking Inside the Box

The bit about alchemy is mostly true – especially when a larger organization works to consume a smaller, more entrepreneurial organization in whole, it can create a lot of friction without creating the intended value: The good ideas both sides bring are lost to disdain.

Encouraging efficiency and the importance of metrics – “data-driven decision-making” – would improve chances of an organization actually synthesizing what an acquired team had to offer. Putting a framework around how existing team members can be innovative within the organization would make any injection of new ideas that much more welcomed and effective. Then the “fresh eyes” have their best shot at ensuring everyone’s successful.