Think big, don't let bureaucracy thwart innovation, Gilbert tells his 'family'
Corporate bureaucracy that blocks innovation — and small thinking in general — needs to be squashed in order for organizations to thrive and overcome what Dan Gilbert dubs "horizontal gravity."
Gilbert used a speech this morning to leaders from 72 Gilbert/Rock Ventures/Detroit Venture Partners companies as a platform to talk about thinking big, not getting lost in the weeds of spreadsheets and the benefits of making decisions quickly.
About 200 employees listened to Gilbert's remarks, which served as the opening session to a company meeting of the Gilbert companies, called Family Reunion IV.
Gilbert, describing himself as a science and history buff, said the forces at work in corporate organizations should fight for small gains and big thinking simultaneously. While it's important to sweat the details, like correct spelling and functional details of a website, it's just as important to experiment, allow employees the chance to fail and put investment dollars toward promising ideas.
Spreadsheets, for example, are a way to track data but morale and innovation aren't found there, he said.
"Spreadsheets measure, but they don't create," he said.
"Nobody I know who is successful is a small thinker. Big thinking overcomes horizontal gravity."
While some decisions require due diligence and heavy research before final sign-off, other kinds of decisions can be made quickly so a team can move forward, Gilbert said. Recalling a recent meeting with business magnate Warren Buffett, Gilbert said a big takeaway was that there is no proof that taking longer to make decisions in business life leads to better decisions.
It's also important, Gilbert told the crowd at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, not to forget the value of relationship-building, the threads that become the basis for success.