An Anecdote From Phil Simon’s Book, The New Small

I’ve been reading Phil Simon’s excellent book, The New Small (not an affiliate link), on my Kindle and on the Kindle app on my iPad. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Before I get into the quote above and more about the book, I wanted to explain how I came upon this book in the first place.

I don’t have a lot of time to read. I’m not quite as obsessive as Henry Bemis, played by Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone episode, “Time Enough at Last,” but I do relate. So when I do have time to read, it better be good.

I’m not sure how I first learned about Phil Simon, but I’m glad I did. A couple weeks ago, I caught a tweet he sent out regarding his new book, The Age of the Platform. To make a long rambling story short, I contributed $10 to pre-purchase the book, and while I was at it, decided to order The New Small.

Simon is a technology consultant, author, and speaker. With The New Small, he analyzes some of the mechanisms that are driving the growth of small businesses. These companies, according to Simon, have a distinct advantage over larger companies, primarily due to their agility. While many small companies do not emulate Simon’s “new small” and instead seem to embrace the bureaucracy and inflexibility of larger firms, the exceptional companies portrayed in his book in many ways represent the cutting edge of commerce. In essence, these companies exemplify the concept so close to my heart, of More From Less.

The book is understandably heavily weighted towards technological advances, and as such, Simon identifies five core concepts behind the success of “new small” companies – what he has termed, the five enablers:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Software as a Service (SaaS)
  3. Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)
  4. Mobility
  5. Social Networks

What’s The Point?

Let’s go back to the quote that started this post off. One day in a gym, Simon met a guy named Tim who was working for a large consulting firm. This particular firm, while generating massive revenue – primarily through recommending solutions that would improve the performance of their clients’ businesses, was firmly mired in political struggles preventing its own growth. Some time later, Tim left the behemoth consulting company to go to work for a “new small” company – one that thrived on implementing effective solutions.

The lesson here, for me at least, is that not only do agile and forward-thinking companies thrive (even in tough economies), but the people behind those companies thrive as well. Happy employees make for better bottom lines. No amount of contrived team building exercises, updates to the employee manual, or public postings of the company mission statement are going to increase job satisfaction for burned-out workers.

Everyone, if they are honest with themselves, deep down wants to feel that what they are doing professionally, is somehow contributing something of worth. The more internal self-worth one feels, the better their performance on-the-job will be. How satisfied are you with your job?