Why Innovation May Suffer When a Company’s Founder Leaves – WSJ

I’ve left three companies I founded or was cofounder there of. I think one thing that drives a lot of founders to leave is how others in the company, especially non-founders, start to focus only on money. Certainly that’s important but often the reason these companies start or become successful is due to the founders focus on offering a innovative and attractive solution or service to some problem or issue. So once a founders idea, product, service or what have you becomes “real” some companies start to hyper focus on commoditization, sales, marketing and forget that you need to keep innovating not just iterativley improving if you really want change. Yet change is inherently risky which bothers the more sales, marketing, and finance people. They often attempt to manage the founder or founders, sometime with darn good reason, to actually keep them from creating to much change, radically diffrent systems or products and the like. For some of us that sort of constraining atmosphere is incredibly frustrating and annoying where our needs to explore, experiment, take risks, challange the status quo, and innovate and constantly punished. Hence we tend to leave. The company then often loses that voice and the champions of innovation. There are many good examples such as Apple. There are also contra example where companies do just fine or better after getting rid of their founder. The best companies though foster a continuously adapting organization that either knows how or activley learns how to apply innovation and their founders ideas and ethos while mainting a healthy focus on being a business. It’s not a trival thing too do but those companies that manage to tend to be the companies that survive well after the founders are gone, they are the places where people enjoy working, and they are the ones who have the most impact.


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