When It’s Not Enough

You know pretty clearly when something is not working, like when you car suddenly stops moving forward because you’ve run out of gas. What’s nice about this particularly example is that a solution is just as obvious.

Unfortunately, most of life is not this clear and not this obvious. This is particularly important in the realm of business and especially startups.

When you start putting together a new project the only thing that you have going for you is velocity, grit, and a lot of hard work. These are your tools and your true competitive advantage.

Powered by an underlying vision for a future that’s better than the present, you and your team work together with speed to put together an airplane mid-flight with hopes that things do not come wildly apart.

And there is absolutely zero room and zero tolerance for anyone who isn’t working optimally. Remember, it’s either the plan stays in flight or it crashes and the project burns (with everyone with it).

This is why it’s so important to have the tough conversations more often one is usually comfortable with so that alignment and momentum is true and uninterrupted. Good leaders are aware of misalignment while great ones know of it and also do something about it.

Self-awareness is an important part of this cycle as well. If you find yourself unable to pace with the pacesetters (typically the founders) then you need to have those hard conversations and make clear decisions about what needs to change.

Either the role / responsibilities do not make complete sense or perhaps the pace isn’t something that the individual could manage well to begin with. To be clear, this isn’t a hit on the person because not everyone is meant to work in the context of a startup! Sometimes it’s worth experiencing one just to know that.

But the point is that it’s not enough and if it’s not enough for a long time then things globally start to take a downturn. Morale across the boards can drop besides productivity and momentum.

Consequently, the greatest advantage that this new, extremely delicate project has is being existentially threatened. Not to be melodramatic, but, it can honestly be the sign of early-death. The culture and leadership has accepted that a mediocre pace is acceptable and the project thus becomes mediocre as a result.

And nothing happens out of mediocrity.

When it’s not enough it’s time to get the right people in the right positions executing against the right things. It’s a matter of survival.

Also published on Medium.