The Bubble

Andy Friedman Dec- 2021 As CEO of O.D. Consulting, I experience the employment market on a daily basis and I've lived through many of the trends that have shaped the high-tech industry. Today I want to talk about the start-up scene, where tales can range from comedy to tragedy. All too often they start with an omnipotent attitude (while spending other people's money) and end by excusing their failure with the claim they were "ahead of the market".

So what's going on here?

This young industry is often led by people with limited managerial-leadership maturity who instead of growing value organically and developing the resilience needed to deal with their unique situation, focus on “giving” value to their employees by material means and trying to create emotional dependence through treats. This often replaces dealing with real intra-organizational or competitive environment complexities.

In my experience, start-ups who choose this more challenging approach tend to be those that survive and thrive. Because life is about dealing with ups and downs, with failures and existential anxieties, and with the uncomfortable truth that we can be good and bad at the same time – both egotistical and socially minded, industrious and lazy. Too often organizations try anesthetize us by focusing on the “glass half-full” so we don’t have to deal with this complexity.

But dealing with complexity is the key to success. So I suggest organizations set themselves 4 simple principles:


No choice boundaries: produce clearer and more modest boundaries of material frameworks and sharpen the distinction between what is allowed and what is forbidden.


Healthy paranoia: The external threat must be brought inside – provide employees with an authentic picture of the company and competitive situation. This means implementing regulated flows of realistic information in order to formulate and share an authentic image of reality, even when frustrating.


The authentic self: real caring means helping employees in their personal journey in search of meaning. Create frameworks in which employees can seek out their “authentic self” and, importantly, take responsibility for the development of his or her career.


Relationships: We must create a hybrid environment based upon layers of realistic encounters in order to develop ourselves both emotionally and socially. There are benefits and limitations to each form of contact. Correspondence via short messages is not really a substitute for direct contact and zoom meetings are matter-of-fact, but make it difficult to maintain in-depth contact.

Just as in the case of the Internet bubble in the early 2000s, we might soon wake to a reality where young people in the high-tech industry who have built a life based on the dream rather than the reality will have to recalculate their trajectory in order to return to sanity. The good news is that those that can accept and navigate this complexity might yet be the ones who create the next high-tech winners.

Latest articles in ,