4 thoughts on “World Class”

  1. Hi Rowan. Great post.

    I think about world-class a little bit differently. You implied in the last few sentences that to be world-class you have to win. But surely, everyone who competed at the London Olympics 10,000m final was world-class (or at least olympic class)? You might think it’s semantics, but I think that it’s not always useful (or healthy) to strive to be the very best, the number one, the world champion.

    For example, I want us to build a world-class dev team here at Vend. I want us to help invent best practice, host site visits from other SaaS companies wondering how we do what we do, have my guys keynoting at conferences. But I don’t want the number one dev team in the world. The extra work is not worth the extra 0.1s performance improvement.

    1. In any race there is only one winner. And there are a lot of examples in sport of world class performances which ultimately weren’t winning performances. So, I don’t think one necessarily implies the other.

      I suspect that most elite sports people would judge their performance mostly relative to what they are capable of and what they expected of themselves, rather than how that compared to others. Competition gives them a relative measure to push themselves to perform better than they may have previously thought possible (there are many famous rivalries which are good examples of this).

      So, you’re right – it’s not nearly as simple as winning.

      And, of course, the sporting arena comes with slightly contrived rules which make for easy measurement. The real world is different and messy and as a result often much more subjective.

      How would you even determine if you were the very best dev team? I think the three measures you’ve put up are great – it’s interesting that they are all education related and involve a relative external comparison.

      Different teams will measure themselves in different equally valid ways. So, at that point, we’re back to the comparison with your potential or expected performance. Do that well and others will call you world class.

  2. Good read – interesting to see that Tiger’s attitude and even the mannerisms in his game haven’t really changed since he was so young!

    For you as an investor Rowan, I suspect that over-use of phrases like “world class” become noise that you get good at filtering. For me, as a start-up founder in a SaaS space full of competing solutions, this topic is particularly relevant from a customer-centric perspective.

    Imagine the small business owner who’s good at their job and loves what they do. They decide to upgrade some software – not something they are doing day in and day out. A quick Google search returns dozens of solutions claiming to be “world class”. The marketing sites all look amazing.

    Are all of those apps world class? I can guarantee that they aren’t. In fact some of them probably hardly even work. Imagine the fatigue of wading through the trial accounts to find a good solution. A quote yesterday from a new customer we had was “I installed and tested about 20 of them!”. Poor bugger.

    Like your first example above, start-ups are a marathon. You can start with a sprint and stick your nose out for a few hundred meters. But will you be there at the end?

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