Posted by: T.D. Inoue | April 23, 2011

A thousand forks in the road

Now that we’re on the other side of a major decision point, we can get back on track to handle more mundane issues like actually creating our business. Fortunately, at the same time my mind got made up, our potential business partners affirmed our decision. In fact, changing direction opened a lot of doors that would have been closed to us while simultaneously eliminating most of the huge headaches we were looking at. It’s great when things go your way!

As a startup, we’re going to have a lot of decisions to make, and while most won’t be “make-or-break” type decisions, I think the sum of these decision is what results in success vs. failure. It’s a case of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It’s like a cross-country trip. If I make a few wrong turns, I can correct the course and get to my destination. But if I fail to correct, I can miss the destination by thousands of miles. I think this is why agile companies with tight feedback loops can be so successful. They adapt to various obstacles and correct their courses based on live conditions that would be impossible to predict beforehand. Entrepreneurial legends Mark Suster and Bill Gross discuss this in a great interview, here. Listen about 30 minutes in. Great stuff. It reminds of one of Mark’s earlier posts on JFDI.

A startup can become a cult of personality. In some cases, that’s great, because you need someone passionate about building great products or providing amazing service. But, it can also be dangerous if someone has too much ego and is unwilling to change course when faced with evidence showing that the destination is undesirable.

As CEO, I have a vision for where I want OurKudos to go. I certainly have an ego and can be quite forceful in pushing us towards goals that are consistent with that vision. However (I think) that I’m pretty good at listening to the people that I’ve entrusted to do the real work in the company. If they tell me that some idea is stupid, I’ll take that seriously, and if their criticism still makes sense after we discuss it, I’ll adapt and change course.

Another thousand forks in the road lie ahead…

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