The Curse of Good Ideas

The always insightful Mark Suster writes The Scarcest Resource at Startups is Management Bandwidth:

When you work inside a startup with lots of clever and motivated staff you’re never short of good ideas that you can implement. It’s tempting to take on new projects, new features, new geographies, new speaking opportunities, whatever. Each one incrementally sounds like a good idea, yet collectively they end up punishing undisciplined teams. I like to counsel that the best teams are often defined by what they choose not to do.

And to drive home the point that he’s talking to you–yeah, you–he provides this list of examples:

Examples from discussions I’ve had this month that might resonate with your internal debates about how to prioritize
* We are giving a version of our product to a team in Europe who will start selling our product internationally
* We are signing up a channel partner to sell our product since we haven’t scaled our internal telesales team yet [yes, we know that they don’t have experience selling IT, but they have customer relationships]
* We’re going to put a guy on the ground in the UK to address early leads we’re getting from ad agencies there [true, we haven’t thought about employment laws, taxation, currency management, etc.]
* I know our product seems complex but we felt we needed to test lots of features to be sure we knew what would resonate with users … or … we aren’t committed to features x, y, z yet but we know our competitors are planning to so we wanted to be first to market
* We need to hire a team in financial services now to address the needs of that industry [yeah, I know we don’t yet have big customers there. ok, I know our product isn’t yet verticalized. still, we need to start now or we’ll be behind.]
And so on. Trust me – each additional complexity you add before you’re ready decreases your probability of being truly excellent at the things you want to do extraordinarily well.

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