Friday, May 11, 2012

Starting up - a Month-1 perspective

Its an exciting roller-coaster journey on which I have commenced, and too early to call. So a few brief points to journal my learning.

1. Its all about the people
If there is one thing that defines success and failure in this environment, it is people. Their attitude and their quality. For someone from consulting, this is the biggest learning while starting up. The rigorous standards of people selection and development in management consulting often ensure that we work with the best, and the self-motivated. Outside here, its like the wild-wild-west. Add to that, the lack of a brand and limited ability to pay for high quality talent, and you have a situation where people often slip to the lowest-common denominator in their performance. In this environment, finding people with the right attitude and motivating them towards a vision is the biggest challenge one faces.

2. The devil lies in the details
In a consulting environment, one often has an attitude of taking a big picture view of everything. The so-called 10,000 ft perspective. And one often tends to undervalue the small issues and challenges in executing on design. A second big learning in a startup environment is that the real challenges exist in addressing the smallest of the issues effectively and in a time-bound fashion. The small issues are the attention and time suckers, the true devils that can jeapordise the best laid plans.

3. When everything is fluid, discipline matters
For someone from consulting, a fluid unstructured environment is a walk in the park. Or so I thought till I jumped in. The lack of structure here is of a different dimension relatively. There are no boundaries. There is no 'right' way and 'wrong' way. There is no work-life distinction (and therefore where the talk of a balance?). In the absence of bounding constraints, everything is up for re-definition and re-direction. Its very easy to spend attention and energy on a million different things without having achieved anything at the end of the week. So focus matters.

All said and done, despite the challenges one faces, starting up is intensely exciting and great fun. Its an adventure where the learning is so steep, that it feels like drinking from a fire hose.
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