Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dunwoody and Entrepreneurship

Startup companies can be extremely exciting places to work. They are often defined by one key, often radical, innovation and an entire team commits to an almost cultish effort to convert an idea into reality. As one might guess, it takes a special type to work in this environment. It takes someone even more special to manage these people and start these companies. And, as almost everyone in the VC community knows, these are almost never the kind of people who can successfully run a company once it is started.

So it is with cities.

Dunwoody's first post-formation elections are upon us and it is time to find candidates that can run a city. We need candidates who can define themselves in the new semantic of an established city with grown up responsibilities and accountabilities instead of the terms and capabilities of a home owners' association, no matter how effective it was in helping create the city. We need candidates free of even the appearance of unseemly associations and activities--no matter how much everyone likes them or their ice cream. We need to move forward and we need the right people for the job.

The danger one sees in retaining entrepreneurs beyond the startup phase is that their early success becomes justification for self-righteous actions that are wholly inappropriate and counter-productive once that phase is complete. The characteristics, personalities--the very people that were necessary to form the organization are those that will destroy it. The citizens of Dunwoody are facing just that danger.