Why founding teams should be top notch: A Berytech Fund 2 opinion

Pivot, Change, Adapt.  Buzzwords vary, but the concept remains the same. People who used to manage or implement that within […]

Published on June 7, 2019

Pivot, Change, Adapt.  Buzzwords vary, but the concept remains the same.

People who used to manage or implement that within corporations were
called agents of change.  Those who made it their trademark through
scale and scope were called disruptors.  Many claimed that title,
egotistically.

But as always, often repeated mantras hide a lot of exaggeration. 
But also a lot of truth.  Perhaps the most important human trait of all
is our capacity for adaptation.  Whenever we discuss anything pertaining
to human history, adaptation, flexibility, problem solving appear like
recurring themes.

Business is no exception.  Despite the millions of pages of previous
experiences, laws, regulations, best practices, tax codes, despite MBAs,
mentors, friends, and shrinks, despite all that and more, management
remains to this day an essential human activity.  We cannot yet -if
ever- delegate it to machines and provide them with simple instructions
such as: do as best practice dictates, or maximize profit.  A myriad of
decisions needs to be taken every day, adjustments made, nudges,
threats, rewards, camaraderie.

But the most fundamental role of management is to adapt to unforeseen
circumstances.  In highly oiled highly standardized organizations, such
as banks and the like, managers are still needed every day for a
judgment call here, an experience-induced wise decision there.  Managers
are then judged, at least in part, on their ability to adapt and react
to new problems.

It is therefore an established fact that adaptability is a key
essential part of management, even in standardized environments; what
then to think of fluid, mobile environments where all the parts are
moving, and all the moving parts are constantly in flux? And what might
such an environment look like?

The most challenging environments, therefore, from a stability
perspective, are those of start-ups.  And within start-ups, the most
challenging among those are within companies operating at the bleeding
edge of innovation, for there is no precedent to rely upon in that
case.  This is why successful entrepreneurs balance their organizations
with experienced hands, and reinforce their skills by seeking out
consultants, mentors, confidants.

Most household names we admire have business models that are
sometimes quite far from the initial business plan.  Remember Google? It
wanted to become a B2B provider of services, and here it is, one of the
two or three largest ad agencies in the world.   Facebook? From an
exclusive ivy league student redoubt to a capture all data and sell ads
outfit.  Airbnb? From welcoming a guest on an airbed and cooking them
breakfast, to renting empty apartments.  The list goes on and on.

Photo Credits: Startup.co

In each case, the ability to adapt is key.

Basically, no matter how smart and prepared the founder, no matter
how well drawn out the business plan, change will happen.  This is the
only certainty: uncertainty will show up.

In the words of Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, “No Plan Survives
Contact with the Enemy”.  So the need to capture fluid information,
which is further complicated by the uncertainty and the lack of
precision, is key.  Then this imperfect information has to be analyzed,
and acted upon.  And decisions need to be made in this uncertain
environment.  Then re-assessed.  If it works, great, but if it does not,
then things need to be revisited again.  Tweaked.  Optimized. 
Changed.  Transformed.  And pivoted, if all else fails.

So what does it take to be able to handle that? A great team. 
Combining drive, intelligence, lucidity, analytics.  Knowing how to
listen, and when to stop listening and get down to doing things, acting.

A team that is sufficiently stubborn and driven to keep doing what
needs to be done and not give up.  But also sufficiently flexible to
understand when things need to change.

Not easy? Guess what: money – and success – is not lying on the sidewalk.