Did you know that 25% of the population in western countries become depressed at least once in their lifetime? People who are prone to the disease tend to have negative thoughts long before they experience a full depressive episode. They tend to wear black rather than white. They go out at night, instead of during the day. They say No a lot more times than Yes.

I have encountered the same depressing mood in large corporations. Negativity permeates most of the thoughts of the employees. In some cases, it also causes passive aggressive or simply aggressive behaviours. In fact, bullying could be the direct outcome of such an atmosphere.

Executives isolated in their large offices are not different from the rest of the employees in the ‘villages’. It is extremely difficult to find an optimist among them. They all see problems rather than opportunities. They spend most of their time devising back plans C,D and E, in case A and B fail! They are all in fear of loosing their position, in case something goes wrong.

The result of this fear, anger and sorrow has a direct impact on the business. No risks are allowed, therefore no risks are taken. The entrepreneurs are seen as loose canons ready to explode. Any type of innovation that may change the existing culture is seen with suspicion. Eventually, the business stagnates, until it is too late to make meaningful changes.

On the contrary, startups seem to behave in the exact opposite way. Entrepreneurs are optimist by definition. This optimist is probably the only way to keep them going under adverse circumstances. They are willing to take risks and try almost anything. As a result, they innovate continuously in their business. Even if the business eventually fails (which is likely) at least they tried!

I strongly believe that it would be extremely help full, on one hand, to instil some optimism to corporations and, on the other hand, to advice some caution to the startups. The middle way may not be the best way to create scalable businesses (since they need an unusual breath of vision) but it can certainly create scalable businesses.

Bringing together startups and established businesses would allow for the sharing of experiences and attitudes. No wonder corporations are so eager to set up incubators and accelerators within their own space.

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colours-of-Sligo.png