I like your anecdote that people are the only ones who can tackle the unknown unknowns. I think besides what you’ve mentioned, what is also important is that you build an environment to enable the people you hire to act on the unknowns. It will be hard for even the best talent to act if the environment they are in doesn’t inspire, support and enable them to do so. I think an additional topic that would be interesting to explore is how do we improve our abilities to enable and empower our employees to act on these unknowns, is it through structure, through culture or something else?
This is an interesting post. I think when people choose certain jobs and stay, it comes down to how one quality compensates for another less desirable aspect that they eventually are ok with given the good parts of the job. If the pay is amazing but the culture is crap, people will still stay for the money (Just look at how the banking world were able to keep people working at those schedules). If the perks are amazing but the mission of the company is not so appealing, people will still stay if they only care about doing their job but not what they are doing it for. I agree with you a successful company doesn’t have to have a great culture, but this gets me to wonder why there are companies out there who tries to give it all (great pay, great culture, great mission..etc.) when they could spend much less. I think it might come down to employee retention, and eventually the costs cut down by not having to retrain and rehire compensates for what they are spending on employees. And of course, the ideal to build “the best place to work.”
Great post! I think one of nuances of talking in person to employees about layoffs is at times the reason behind multiple layoffs are different, and sometimes some reasonings are hard to make public without destroying relationships with the fired employees. The situation of a public setting is also hard to control and easy to be turned one way or another if not careful. I was at a startup during a time when a couple of their employees, including a senior director was laid off. This fostered rumors until the company finally addressed it in a company wide Town Hall meeting, the VP expressed in very politically correct terms that “the fit wasn’t right” and that he just wasn’t the person to take the company to the next step. Even though I appreciated him talking about the topic, I don’t think it completely put the uneasy atmosphere around the company to rest. I thought that he addressed the issue the best way he could publicly, but then the question remains for the rest of us, “what is fit?”, “am I a fit, or will I also be let go one day?” This all makes the topic more tricky, but I definitely agree presenting it in person is much better than addressing it through just an email.
I think this is a very interesting article, great take on how to receive advice! I personally think it’s important to pick our group of advisors carefully. Naturally we trust our friends, family and mentors the most, but the people we are closest to usually cares about us the most and would hate to see us get hurt or go through failure. Therefore, I find these people’s advice usually leaning towards conservatism and inaction. They also might support you to give it a try, but would advise you to stop and pull out as soon as you hit any minor roadblocks. Hence your point on expanding your “trusted” group well beyond what you’ve previously determined is an important way to prevent skewed feedback through bias sampling.
Great post that raises the bittersweet relationships of having a cofounder very poignantly. I always believe there’s two sides to every decision you can make in the business, and as we learned in class, a cofounder needs to be a very deliberate and thought out decision. With all the complications that comes with having a cofounder, sometimes there really aren’t any adequate candidates. So opposed to a vote of no confidence, not having a cofounder from another perspective could mean that this founder has the conviction to not default to their relationships for any candidate possible to create that false sense of security even when there are no ideal candidates in sight. For me, being absolutely sure that this person is the right person to make into cofounder is always more important than just satisfying another check off box on the VC’s valuation criteria.
I think this a great post. It outlines the necessary controls that needs to be in place and is a great summary of the tensions we’ve discussed in class. I think one more concluding point that definitely needs emphasis is that execution and making sure we really implement these controls is what ultimately makes or breaks your business (and relationships). As seen from the Prolab case, more often than not people want to avoid the difficult conversations, supplemented by the thought that “we’ll probably be alright, we have such a close relationship.” It becomes an easy default to think that having that close relationship makes us the exception. These rules are in place for a reason and no rules were ever effective enough without compliance, this seems to be a big reason why many of these family businesses couldn’t solve the inherent tensions they have.