In The Difference Between Big Companies and Small Companies, I briefly quoted the Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman, who was talking about an incident in which he was helping the California school board choose a set of science textbooks. Feynman had given a poor review to a book that others has praised. Here’s the whole story, which you can reflect on when considering whether your best ideas are good enough to compete against the work of a bigger company’s team:
The man who replaced me on the commission said, “That book was approved by sixty-five engineers at the Such-and-such Aircraft Company!”
I didn’t doubt that the company had some pretty good engineers, but to take sixty-five engineers is to take a wide range of ability–and to necessarily include some pretty poor guys! It was once again the problem of averaging the length of the emperor’s nose, or the ratings on a book with nothing between the covers. It would have been far better to have the company decide who their better engineers were, and to have them look at the book. I couldn’t claim to that I was smarter than sixty-five other guys–but the average of sixty-five other guys, certainly!
I couldn’t get through to him, and the book was approved by the board.
— from “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” (Adventures of a Curious Character)