Bad execution is something that can decide a startup’s failure or success in the long shot. Surely every entrepreneur wants great execution on his/her startup, but the difference between a great and a bad execution is not that much obvious all of the times.
In fact, it is like a fine line that you can cross very easily if you are not careful. And also there are no signs on the road to warn you about bad executions. In this article we will discuss about how we can define great execution in a startup.
Take interviews with prospective employees, for example. There are a few various ways to do this. On one side, you can execute it like a game of numbers. You interview hundreds of people, test whether they have the right qualification, try to hire a few of them, and then play the game of numbers, hoping one of them takes the job. I name it the method of the Lottery Ticket.
Or, you can really get to the candidates you like. You can go all-in to the applicants and continue pursuing the few who truly stand out. Maybe it’s not what a textbook or a hiring specialist would tell you to do, but that’s what tends to bring the top people.
In both of these cases, you’re working very hard. Nobody’s going to tell you that either strategy is incorrect. You are not making noticeable mistakes, but you run things differently. You’re putting in the same amount of energy and time only with slight variations.
Such changes can create or break businesses in the field of biotech, as they always toss all their assets into one project. With so much going on the track, execution is key. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Don’t Concentrate On the Big Mistakes — the Little Ones That Count
So many people are focusing their efforts on not making huge mistakes. They believe that if they can only stop the whoppers, they can win. Charlie Munger, of Berkshire Hathaway, said in an earnings report, “It’s incredible how much long-term advantage individuals like us have had in attempting to be continuously not stupid, rather than trying to be very smart.”
I don’t know if it’s true. By not losing, you can’t really win.
Yet few problems lead to success or defeat. It’s because the little things are less obvious, but they’re getting worse over time. Getting things right tends to lead to something bigger down the track.
This might be the majestic management of an employee’s problem in a timely fashion, the creation of a very well-written document that facilitates a complex problem, the perfecting of the basics of a topic, or the developing of personal relationships. These practices won’t get you on the cover of a magazine, but they’re essential little things that can add to a much bigger reputation.
I’m going to give you an instance. Our work focuses on patients, essentially. We are helping to fix their issues and to handle their illnesses. But the patients we are talking about treating on mass are still many years away. Treatment may not even work out. So, we’re talking about patients in an indirect sense.
This is why I’m trying to think that much about my staff as about my patients. I ‘m thinking about their ambitions, their professional lives, and their requirements. Because if we don’t take good care of our staff, we won’t be capable of taking care of our patients. A series of minor failures in how we handle our staff members can lead to a greater failure in patient care.
Do What is Precious, Not What is Simple
When I first entered Morphic as CEO, I had to make some difficult decisions. There was a program that the business was running — and I could tell you it wasn’t heading in the right direction. It was worth it, but I suspected it wasn’t enough. So, I killed it.
The call was difficult, as I’d just been around for a couple of months. I didn’t have a long background with the business, and I wasn’t confident how the board would react. You’ve got to remember, in biotech, killing a program like that indicates you’re basically starting afresh. One program is everything. This is a very difficult and challenging decision to make.
Initially, I gave the board some clues — because I wasn’t certain how they should react — but I kept thinking that this project wasn’t heading us in the correct direction.
At the next meeting of the Board, I was persuaded. I told them, “Look, this is something we need to kill.”
It’s all about the pain right now, or the pain later. You need to make a choice that adds long term value. It’s quick to keep stuff heading in the direction they’re heading, since people see change and momentum as constructive factors. It’s hard to interrupt anything and shift gears. It doesn’t look as convincing as that. But it’s the distinction between successes and failures further down the road.
Form a team of decision-makers
Great execution is not all on your shoulders, though. Mature execs will find the right individuals and let them do what they’re great at. They offer their workers the flexibility to work well and make choices without anyone gazing over their shoulder all the time.
If this is clear, why can’t more businesses build this environment?
Before I came to Morphic, I had a tour of the CEOs and inquired them about their struggles. Almost each CEO said they wanted to push decision-making down — but they continued to struggle to make it happen.
I ‘m obsessed with this. But developing a team of decision-makers is a cultural job. It’s something you’ll have to get right in the first 90 days or so. If you’re doing it, you will create a culture in which employees feel encouraged to make decisions, rather than trying to come to you with every issue.
If you don’t build that culture in the initial stages, it can be hard to do so afterwards. You have already developed a culture which does not promote autonomous decision-making, and this is not a scalable model. Once more, a slight difference in the manner you execute will be compounded over time.
Success is all about developing and understanding the fine lines over time. Decisions that seem meaningless could be what distinguishes bad and great execution in the end.