My friend Maurice Conti, former Head of Moonshots at Telefonica Alpha, the European equivalent to Google X, told me this story a little while ago. It is a good (and hilarious) reminder that when we want something — say for example that startup lifestyle or the big innovation and disruption initiative — we are better be clear about what we are getting into.
The Pet Tiger.
Owning a pet tiger sounds like an exciting idea. You might have been inspired by the Hollywood hit comedy “The Hangover”. Up to 600 pounds (ca. 272 kilogram) and 11 feet (3.35 m) long, Panthera Tigris is a majestic species in the animal kingdom. It surely would make for an amazing friends & family attraction. You could truly be the coolest kid (or dad) on the block.
But pet tigers need acres and acres of land. They eat up to 90 pounds (ca. 41 kg) of meat at one time. You will have a hard time finding a vet who is willing to look after your pet tiger. And every once in a while they eat your visitors.
All in all, they are an enormous amount of work and an even bigger headache. What sounds like a good idea turns out to be a much bigger headache than you thought.
Startups and Innovation Labs are often like a pet tiger. They sound cool, sexy, awesome — something you like to show off to your friends and colleagues. But once you get into it, you realize that they are a bucketload of work, require constant attention, are hard to maintain, and every once in a while they attack and eat their keepers.
If you want a pet tiger — truly understand what it means to actually own one.
P.S. Listen to Maurice telling this story (and a whole bunch of other insights into innovation and disruption) on our Disrupt Disruption Podcast interview.