Taking Action vs. Planning

A constant debate that I get asked about is the importance of research (planning) vs. action (activity). Some situations (and some people) demand significant planning and research before taking any action. There are also some situations that require action before all of the data and planning that would be desired can be completed.

Here’s my rule of thumb – if time and/or competitive pressures are the critical factors then action is most important. Waiting to ‘think out’ a plan while the competition is taking your customers is not a smart thing to do. It would be much more useful to take some action – even if it’s preliminary.

If the decision requires a significant investment or has long-term impact (like hiring people) then planning before action is important. You wouldn’t want to rush into making personnel or dollar commitments without fully understanding the consequences.

So, what it comes down to is this – awareness and competitive response activities require timely actions – sometimes you just have to go for it. Activities that require large dollars, long-term commitments, and/or personnel moves require much more planning.

Understanding when action is the priority and you can have a nimble, aggressive business. Acting when planning is called for may result in lost dollars, poor execution, and a confused business.

Build a checklist for yourself that allows you to determine quickly which approach is correct.

Web 2.0 or not Web 2.0. That is the question.

I participated in three interesting debates over the past 7 days about Web 2.0 – what it is and is it a good thing. The start of the argument is usually ‘it’s the dotcom era all over again’ as if this, by its very nature, is a damnable offense.

Here’s my take on Web 2.0. It comes down to two very simple concepts; 1) User generated content, and 2) User modifiable interface and experience (mashups). In the Web 1.0 world much of the content was mined or served by the web companies – Amazon gave you books and inventory to buy from, Google served you content that they had found, eBay gave you items to sell or buy, but in a format that was specifically developed (and rigidly structured) by them.

In the Web 2.0 world the great content comes from the users themselves and are shared among the community using tools such as Wikipedia, LinkedIn, and Flickr. The user experience is also enhanced by the ability for users to link in tools and HTML from other sites. Myspace is a great example of this since they provide the ability to integrate audio, video, pictures, and other content. This ‘mashup’ experience is a key part of Web 2.0.

At iTaggit we are providing users the ability to post content from their collections into other sites as well. A user can post an individual item, collection, or their profile into any site that accepts HTML code. This means that you can embed your item info in eBay, put a link to your music collection on myspace, or include your full profile in the signature line of your email.

Here’s what the profile looks like when you add a signature line: www.itaggit.com/user/daltounian

As to whether ‘dotcom’ is a four letter word, remember that eBay, Amazon, Google all came out of the dotcom era. Web 2.0 companies that add value to users lives will succeed. Web 2.0 companies that are just plain ‘experiences’ will be challenged.

At least that’s my take.

Sharing the craziness….

Alright, it’s time that I jump in and try this blogging thing out. Friends have told me that my life is just crazy enough to be partially interesting. I’m going to try to update this on a daily basis but since I’m not much of a creature of habit we’ll see how it goes….

A little background. I have a wonderful wife and three great kids. I have to say ‘kids’ carefully because my oldest daughter is 19 years old and away at college.

I am the CEO of a small startup in Austin, Texas called iTaggit. It’s a web-based service company which provides cataloging and asset management tools to people. I’m also a minority owner of the Austin Wranglers, an Arena Football League team and am the acting CMO for the team.

On top of that, I’m one of the founders of a Tablet PC company, Motion Computing and while I’m no longer active in the day to day operations, I am still a board member.

Finally, I’m just finishing up my Executive MBA at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois. I’ve been flying between Chicago and Austin every two weeks for the past two school years. Graduating in June.

Each of these activities gives me lots of interesting stuff to write about (at least to me). I’m tired from just writing what I do! Tomorrow I’ll pick a topic and start writing.