Why You Can’t Rush Management

One of the most important things for entrepreneurs learning to be managers and leaders is to learn not to rush. It’s always tempting to rush, especially in a startup setting.  There’s always too much to do, not enough time to do it, and taking the time to thrash through management issues can seem like a … Continue reading Why You Can’t Rush Management

Management and the Martial Arts

Over breakfast, a young entrepreneur asked me for my advice on how to become a better manager.  “I think I’m pretty good,” he said, “I’m really clear about what people need to do, and if they’re not sure what to do, I lead them through it.  But it’s really frustrating.  I told a team member … Continue reading Management and the Martial Arts

“Are the conversations after a meeting a lot more honest than the ones in a meeting?”

Eric Barker advises asking the titular question as a way of assessing whether or not a company is in a state of denial: http://bit.ly/15RCfuP Yet denial isn’t the only reason I can think of for why post-meeting conversations might be more honest than the ones in the meeting.  Here are a few other reasons I … Continue reading “Are the conversations after a meeting a lot more honest than the ones in a meeting?”

The Power of Assertive Inquiry

The startup world is full of people with strong opinions.  We value people who can articulate a clear point of view.  Yet the constant focus on advocacy can lead us down argumentative ratholes, and cause us to miss the contributions of the less assertive. Rather than focusing on simply arguing for our own point of … Continue reading The Power of Assertive Inquiry

“Cultural Fit” is only a valid hiring criteria if you can accurately define your culture

Fast Company recently ran an excellent interview with Shanley Kane, the author of “What Your Culture Really Says.” http://bit.ly/1fOscLj The entire interview is a good read, as is Kane’s original piece, but I want to focus on a single passage: “This idea that someone is not a culture fit functions both during the hiring process … Continue reading “Cultural Fit” is only a valid hiring criteria if you can accurately define your culture

Lessons from my Mother-In-Law

One of the thing that always amazes me when I visit my in-laws is the condition of their household.  Everything is always completely clean and tidy.  There isn’t even a stack of old mail near the door–somehow, even the products of the direct mail industry are whisked away to some hidden repository. After observing my … Continue reading Lessons from my Mother-In-Law

You need to shape the envelope of possibility

Most entrepreneurs focus on expanding the envelope of possibility.  They love to tell me about potential applications of their technology and new markets that could use it.  Their goal is to expand the envelope of possibility. Expanding the envelope is critical.  Startups begin with nothing; only by expanding the envelope of possibility can they succeed. … Continue reading You need to shape the envelope of possibility

Your startup’s advantage is tempo

Why do startups succeed? They have fewer people. They have fewer resources. They have less brand recognition. Most founders are smart, but incumbents have smart people too.  That’s usually how they became incumbents. The answer, and your startup’s fundamental advantage is tempo. We usually call it speed or agility, but speed and agility are capabilities, … Continue reading Your startup’s advantage is tempo

Checklists make sure you ask the right questions

I recently finished reading/listening to Atul Gawande’s “Checklist Manifesto,” the 2009 bestseller about using checklists in medicine, construction, and air travel.  Gawande’s book argues that the incredible complexity of modern endeavors such as building a $100 million skyscraper, flying a jumbo jet, or performing open heart surgery is best managed using simple checklists. For example, … Continue reading Checklists make sure you ask the right questions

It’s easier to push the big picture to the frontlines than to feed details to headquarters

Most entrepreneurs are control freaks.  That’s not a bad things.  When you’re a 1- or 2-person company, and when you want to create a great product, you need the person in charge to really sweat the small stuff. The problem arises as the organization increases in size.  Soon, other people are talking with customers, writing … Continue reading It’s easier to push the big picture to the frontlines than to feed details to headquarters