I believe that early stage startups, or businesses looking to foster innovation, have needs (or rather that the group of people involved in the process, collectively, have needs). Whether these needs get met and how they get met day-to-day determines how successful a business will ultimately be.
Based on my personal experiences I believe there are 6 primary needs. So what are they?
[contentheading]The first need is the need for co-creation:[/contentheading]
People support things that they create, if you want to enlist people to a common cause allow them to be part of the creation process.
[contentheading]The second need is the need for decision-making:[/contentheading]
Business is not a democracy, progress requires someone to make the call and then for everyone to align. Decisions are best built on a foundation of mutual respect and there can be no hidden agendas.
Notice the tension between these two needs? Collaboration helps people feel vested in the process, but at the end of the day someone has to be in a position of mutual respect and make the tough calls or there’s no action?
[contentheading]The third need is the need for stability:[/contentheading]
Things take time, people need a period of stability to be able to focus on getting the job done. If there’s constant change or new ideas keep coming thick and fast it’ll just disrupt people’s flow, lead to lack of progress and frustration for all.
[contentheading]The fourth need is the need for instability:[/contentheading]
Mix it up from time to time; question the status quo; look for ways to make things even better; identify new opportunities. Don’t get too inwardly focused on day-to-day execution or the next great idea will pass by unnoticed.
Again, notice the tension? People need stability to effectively execute, the vision, idea or direction can’t be constantly in flux, yet get to myopic on getting the job done and innovation grinds to a halt.
Now, while the first four needs relate more to execution, the next two are all about heart and soul.
[contentheading]The fifth need is the need for a compelling vision:[/contentheading]
Vision is the track along which the train rides, without vision co-creation runs amok and decision-making lacks a framework of reference and cohesion over time. Vision provides people with a sense of purpose to what they are doing. If there’s one thing that needs stability, it’s the vision of a business.
[contentheading]The sixth need is the need for an empowering culture:[/contentheading]
Culture is the fabric that knits everything together, it must provide people with a sense of autonomy, an opportunity to master what they do and stamp out internal politics. An empowering culture combined with a compelling vision provides all the motivation in the world for people to give their all to the business.
What would be the top 2 needs that you excel at satisfying? Does your business contain a balance of people to ensure all 6 get meet at a high level on a day-to-day basis? Are the needs getting met in a positive way that’s good for the individual, good for the business and good for the world at large?
Troy D says
Really good stuff Keiron! I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and insights relating to business and business formation.
Michael Keefe says
Really great post Keiron–spot on.
I like your list. The seventh need is the need for fun, humor, levity or whatever similar word you might choose. Successful startups in my experience need people who don’t take themselves or the business too seriously, laugh together often, and find the humor in stressful startup situations. I think that was a key part of the Kaboodle success formula at least for me during the early days when I was there.
Robert Young says
You are sharing the truth based on what I have experienced on both ends of being in business. The awesome success end, and not being focused on the “needs” and failing forward.
Keep sharing and caring.