Zen and The Art of Entrepreneurship By Brant Cooper (@brantcooper) Artwork By: Amy Metier From: Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Ronald L. DiSanto & Thomas J. Steele
Seeking the Ox The Ox is not truly lost, so why seek it? Having turned eyes inward, the true Vision is hidden. Amid skepticism and fear, he seeks riches and acclaim and so holds the vision ever tighter, until it can’t be seen. Entrepreneurs are taught Hubris: The Vision is indefatigable. Believe in Yourself. Be iconic. Then reality happens: Feature bloat; Muddied vision; Market fragmentation; Missed revenue targets.
Finding the Tracks Through the teachings he sees the Ox’s impressions in the Earth He sees glimpses of the Vision in a mirror. As the sun rises the mirror becomes a window, yet impressions of the Vision remain. He seeks to go outside. Through Customer Development, you engage the market. You sense market signal around the pain or passion you are addressing. But the signal is not clear: Custom engineering; Small markets; Difficulty monetizing; Lack of customer passion
First Glimpse of the Ox If he will only listen close enough, he will see the Vision. When at ease and in the world, eyes focused outward, the Vision appears more clearly and larger than before. Who can capture the essence of the grand Ox? . Customer Discovery reveals if the pain or passion exists and where it is hidden, and with that the Vision is glimpsed outside the building. And if not, reflect on the vision: You have the wrong Customer? The wrong pain or passion? The wrong solution?
Catching the Ox Today he stumbles across the Ox in a field. He has wandered far from his the safety of his abode. Outside in the field, he is confronted by the Ox. Without time to reflect, he fights to corral the Ox. It drags him up the rocky hill and backs into the deep ravine. Through focused engagement and testing, you discern learning that describes the larger Vision. Patterns appear: Groups become segments; Pains are distinguished; Early adopters found; Path toward passion unearthed
Taming the Ox The Ox Follows He first must hold the rope tight, so the Ox does not wander. When it is stubborn, he gives slack. When it is docile, he gently pulls. Finally, the rope is untied and the Ox follows. The Customer wants to take hold of the Vision. But you have a market to serve. You must fight, learn and lead: Say no; Fire a customer; Empathize with the pain; Create a Customer for Life;
Riding the Ox Home The Struggle is Over Astride the Ox, he is serene. He is neither focused on the Vision, nor unfocused, yet directing the rhythm. Together, he and the Ox, know the path home. Through Customer Validation you establish a known and repeatable process for capturing, converting, and retaining satisfied customers. The growth plan emerges: Your segments are understood; Your revenues are predictable; Your hiring is projected; You’re ready for funding;
Ox Forgotten, Self Alone The True Vision is Seen The Ox is no longer necessary, because he sees his Vision for what it is and that it will always be both he and the Ox. He gently guides the Vision with serene self-consciousness. You have mastered the craft of Customer Development and Entrepreneurship.
Ox and Self Forgotten Now There is only Vision There is no window, no looking inside or outside. The Vision belongs to no one and is the guiding force. The pretense that the Vision is yours falls away. The whole is the problem and the solution; the pain and the Vision. Execution and Operational Processes come to the fore.
Returning to the Source The Same as it Ever Was He is home again. He no longer recalls why he sought the Ox. He no longer needs the Vision, nor does the Vision need him. The Vision is itself. It does not belong to him or no longer does he belong. There is a sense of loss and embitterment. The business grows – the Vision continues -- without you. You will perhaps leave. You return to your original inspiration: Is there need for continued innovation? Where is there need for disruption? Is this inside or outside the company?
Entering the Marketplace Leaving Home Forever He reflects that he is no longer who he was when he last inhabited the home. He takes his leave, serene again. He brings with him his journey to teach to others in the town. You bring your ability to dream, test, validate and achieve Vision back to the business or to others. You are an Artist.