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    Vu Jade

    (February 28, 2002) - "Vu Jade" (voo jhad) is the opposite of "Deja Vu". Where "deja vu" is the sense that this has happened before, "vu jade" is the feeling, familiar to all entrepreneurs, that none of this makes any sense at all. It's the experience of viewing the world and finding that everything behaves in ways that are unpredictable.

    In very complex systems, like airplanes, nuclear reactors or submarines, much of the work requires that operators rely on instrumentation and sensors rather than the direct experience of their senses for decision making. Occasionally (Three Mile Island was an example), something happens that was not anticipated by the system designers. In these cases, the instruments tell a tale that is different from the reality. When operators do X, expecting Y as a result, they get Z response instead. Coupled with panic, "vu jade" is responsible for a sort of group think that results in major catastrophes.

    There are milder forms of "vu jade" that are a normal part of the entrepreneurial experience. In our environment, the development of new tools and ideas that have never been seen before is the stock and trade of our pioneers. You really can't identify a single entrepreneur at the heart of the new HCM world-view who doesn't thrive on the sense that he or she is "going where no one has gone before".

    Unfortunately, intimate living experience with "vu jade" has a number of difficult consequences. The entrepreneur becomes insulated from those looks on the faces of people who get the "pitch". It's not hard to begin to interpret that look as an affirmation when it really means "I don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about". Success in the entrepreneurial slot depends on belief in a vision whether or not others can see it. While useful in development, it makes for bad judgment in other areas.

    Customers generally dislike going where no one has gone before. They'd rather follow because risk is reduced when someone else goes first. Balancing the need for customer adoption and the need to maintain a reverence for "vu jade" is the ultimate chore when taking a visionary company and building it to mainstream revenues. Often, the founder becomes a spectator in the process. While he or she must continue to inhabit the world of "vu jade", growth depends on customers finding a product to be familiar.

    As the recession lifts and we enter the next phase of industry development, a fair number of organizations in ur world are faced with balancing these two conflicting perspectives. The key will be finding a balance, not the victory of one over the other.


    - John Sumser

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