Friday Oct 5, 2012 by Dave Barrett - Managing General Partner, Polaris Venture Partners
Having read Seth Godin’s great little book, The Dip, I’ve been thinking about how Dips really influence the arc of not just individual career development but also that of start-up team development.
When to quit – and when to stick. A simple concept. But pretty complicated in its impact beyond the decision of the moment.
Quit. Move on. Cut one’s losses in a difficult situation. Learn from mistakes and start a new arc.
Stick. Work through the problem-solving. Learn from mistakes and prevail.
Every start-up is a shiny new toy. For founders, employees, investors, advisors. Intellectual curiosity accelerated by energy & excitement.
But then the challenges pile up, the going gets tougher and the problem-solving gets more complex. Figuring out how to solve for the trend line of those challenges is everything. Are they one-off problems? Are they data points in a long line? Perhaps they’re a cul-de-sac, which will never get better as much as one tries.
But on the other hand, maybe “that which nearly kills” really does get one (and more than one) stronger.
If problem-solving is a constructive experience, a team can feel that solutions are not few and far-between. There’s derivative, repeatable value to the problem-solving journey.
Individuals understand and believe their role’s contributions to team success. They’re drawn to “the beacon” of company vision. They get closer as a team.
I work closely with a company that successfully deals with their Dips as a team. This company is not an overnight success. They’ve been at it nearly 10 years. They’ve built a great company, a great business, and are planning to be a public company.
A few observations:
They’ve got a great CEO leader, but also many other leaders across the team.
But there are different types of “battle leaders” leaders, as Godin outlines:
This company has all three. Most great teams of any type do.
This core of company’s team has been together for over 6 years. The company’s culture encourages thinking through Dips, individually and as a team.
They know how to get through company Dips. They encourage each other in getting through individual Dips.
And they’ve built a great company because of it.
Godin says what really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead-ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.
Dave Barrett is a General Partner with Polaris Venture Partners. You can find this post, as well as additional content on his blog called I Know You Know. You can also follow Dave on Twitter (@davebarrett4) on Twitter by clicking here.