Are pioneers & process people different breeds?


I was just reading Oliver Eidel’s blog. He had a great post, with some provocative ideas. Pioneers versus Process people.

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Now since I love to play devils advocate, after reading this thought provoking article, I thought I would write a bit of my take.

1. Are pioneers and process really characteristics of two different people?

As Oliver describes it, there are two completely different humans. Are they different breeds? Different species perhaps? Whatever the case, he argues that people either have one characteristic or the other.

To me the pioneer, is the engineering expression of creativity. They want to create new things, run with an idea, and see if they can make something happen. But even the most stodgy people have a bit of creativity in them, even if they don’t always express it. Yes I believe everyone has a tiny pioneer buried inside.

And so too, the pioneer, can should the need arise, buckle down and get tasks done. Yes they can be disciplined too, if you want to apply a different word.

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2. Do pioneer stage startups need more discipline?

I’ve worked at many a startup. I love them. Riding skateboards to work, and having dogs around the office is certainly a laid back downtown atmosphere, that appeals a lot more that the financial district buttoned up scene.

Also pioneer startups, often have a lot of leeway, to, as Oliver says “walking off in random directions, developing other great products”. This is how new ideas are hatched.

That said, many of these startups will one day fail. And it’s not for lack of idea, or market need. It’s often team related. That’s right, some of the best and coolest startups fail for lack of discipline. They’re too pioneering!

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3. Do process stage companies need more pioneering spirit?

I’ve also worked at quite a few larger, somewhat stodgy firms. These are so process heavy, that simple things can take forever. Everything requires a signoff. Deploying code can take weeks. Yes indeed they do things the old fashioned way, and that’s because they always have done that.

Could they use a pioneer or two to shake things up? Totally! Creative energy, drive and spirit could help them find faster ways to do things, and become unstuck when their old school process mentality is limiting their growth.

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