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.

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

Pioneers & Process People

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 stodgiest 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.

Read: How can 1% of something equal nothing?

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 than 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!

Related: Is Fred Wilson right about dealing in an honest, direct, and transparent way?

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.


Pioneer startups have the ability to develop great products, but the lack of discipline can cause failure. Process-heavy companies could benefit from a pioneer’s creative energy and drive to find faster ways to do things. We hope you have found this article helpful in identifying whether Pioneers and Process people are two different breeds or not. For further queries regarding this topic, feel free to ask in our comment box below. Thanks for reading!

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