You have overlooked something critical in your minimum viable team leadership strategy.
When you are a startup, you lack the scale of people, money and marketplace. You are obsessed with “what’s going to get us to where we need to be today.”
You are busy detecting flaws in your product, service and platform. You leave no stone unturned. You are focused on creating and executing a well-crafted customer discovery plan and feedback loop.
You are myopic.
Your startup’s culture is your business Achilles Heel. Or rather, your startup’s lack of culture.
Sure you and your co-founder get along well with each other. You are passionate about coding 24/7/365. You are constantly in failure mode analysis on an engine design that reduces the carbon footprint.
Getting along well with your co-founder is not the same as identifying the key (and minimum viable) factors of your corporate culture that are required to grow, expand and sustain or exit your startup.
Your startup culture is a system of belief, including self-belief.
Overlooking the impact of corporate culture on the future of your startup is a big Oops. Your oversight is the difference between spinning your wheels as you churn through a series of co-founders and teams versus launching a viable and funded idea into an excited marketplace of early adopters.
Edward Burnett Tylor, the father of cultural anthropology at Oxford University in 1871, defined culture as encompassing a group’s capabilities and habits, customs and traditions, knowledge acquisition and retention, morals and laws, and art as well as belief systems. Let’s establish his context, as well. His definition was influenced by Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859).
In order to survive, your naiscent startup culture involves more than liking to spend time with your co-founder and your team. Your culture involves more than your team executing what you have specified.
What image comes to mind when you read the term “startup culture”? Do you envision your startup being the next location for a beer commercial? That’s a 30-second time slot.
Is your startup culture stable enough to last through the next investor pitch without team members jumping ship?
Your startup’s business Achilles Heel causes you to doubt yourself. When you don’t believe in yourself as a leader of worth, neither does your team.
Edgar Schein, Sloan Professor of Management Emeritus at MIT, defines corporate culture as a function of corporate leadership. It is “a pattern of shared basic assumptions learned by a group as it solve[s] its problems of external adaptation and internal integration…”
Think about it.
In today’s globally competitive technology-based digital economy, your attention to creating a strong culture through leadership is critical. Your leadership creates, grows, sustains and expands your corporate culture as it creates, grows, sustains and expands your business.
Your startup Achilles Heel has a root cause. Your lack of attention to your own minimum viable team leadership strategy impacts your startup’s viability.
Create a strong startup team culture at the same time you create your product. This is not an academic exercise. Your startup team culture is not the same as your business plan and financial forecasts.
Your startup Achilles Heel, however, just may be both the W and T in your SWOT Analysis.
What type of over arching system of belief are you engaged in creating for your startup’s sustainability?
Babette Ten Haken started out her career as a scientist. Early on, she was asked to bring clarity to the chaos of stalemated conversations between engineers, sales, IT, quality, legal and marketing folks. She focuses on building collaborative, innovative and profitable teams who are focused on excellence in the hand-off of strategy for execution. Her Playbook on leadership and business strategies, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.