Mad Hatter Management Tips from Wonderland

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

It was on this day in 1951 Walt Disney released the animated adventures of  “Alice in Wonderland.” Alice’s experience in Wonderland has so many parallels to the entrepreneurial journey. How so you say?

If you will be so kind to follow me down the rabbit hole . . .

Alice clearly was not intending to fall down that seemingly endless hole. She was simply following the strange little white rabbit. Alice is like many entrepreneurs who are just following the latest tactic, without any strategy for doing so. They end up free-falling, grabbing for things on the way down.

Unlike real business, this is a fairy tale, and of course she does not die. But like many business owners, she also does not have any idea how she got to the bottom.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where—,” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

If your destination is not clear, neither is your daily to-do list. If your daily to-do list is not clear, your destination is also negotiable. You will not end up where you intended, except by accident. Clarify your goal, and the right road manifests itself.

Without a strategy, Alice was also unprepared for the unintended results of her many experiments. Alice became big too fast, and then shrinks as fast as she grew large. Without a strategy, you cannot tell which efforts are yielding the greatest results, or the difference between correlation and causation. At times, Alice was simply stuck.

“It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place,” said the Red Queen.

The Red Queen had such a strange brand of wisdom. She tried to help Alice to break out of limited thinking.

“There’s no use in trying,” Alice said,”one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Alice happens upon the Mad Hatter’s tea party, and concludes it is “the stupidest Tea Party ever.” I imagine Twitter must be like that for most new entrepreneurs who jump on the bandwagon of social media without understanding why they are there in the first place. It is all mass confusion, and riddles, and non-sequiturs.  In order to be social in social media, (and social is the point, is it not?), you must first understand the language and communication style of the party you are attending, and know why you are attending the party in the first place. Otherwise, you will leave the party scratching your head.

I remember reading this story for the first time in the college library–causing much disturbance by involuntary, uncontrollable laughter. If you have read it before, I encourage you to read it again, and pull some of your own entrepreneurial wisdom from Mad Hatter’s Hat. A nice change of pace from the tired old management books.

That’s this week’s Imagination Hat.