A bias to action

A Bias to Action

Recently I’ve been in a number of meetings where it felt we lost our Bias to Action. Instead of helping to nurture and implement a new idea, teams discussed the ways it could go wrong. Some tried to convince others that it wasn’t a good idea. Others were just pessimistic, creating the same effect. Fear of what could go wrong crowded out the conversation of what could go right.

1. High-velocity

Recently, we’ve slowed down. It is time to speed up. The way to speed up is to ship value faster. This is true whether we are building product, delivering a strategy report, presenting financial forecasts, or scheduling time with candidates. The faster you ship value, the faster someone receives that value, and the faster you learn.

2. MVP first

Lean product development’s thesis (please read The Lean Startup if you haven’t) is that one should ship product as soon as you can learn something useful from doing so. That is the definition of a minimum viable product. Reed Hoffman famously says that if you aren’t embarrassed to ship something, you have waited too long. We should be more embarrassed more often.

3. Iterative

Iteration is the fastest path to a destination you can’t see. To get there faster you simply accelerate the feedback loop of shipping → learning → shipping → learning. Each step of the loop gives more visibility into the destination and more optionality for what the destination could be. A culture of iteration expands our sights of what is possible while narrowing our focus to what is next.

4. No bureaucracy

Being high-velocity means faster and better frameworks for decision making. When engineers need access, employees need tools, managers need decisions, or executives need data, we need a culture and system that gets them what they need. Bureaucracy is a death-trap. We must be wary of all signs of bureaucracy that start to appear. Signs of bureaucracy include things like “gatekeepers”, decisions without explanations, and denying requests without providing better alternatives. Bureaucracy guards information because information is power. At Carta, that is exactly why we share it.

5. Unafraid to try new things

It seems recently we have developed a negative culture toward new ideas. We approach change with skepticism and caution. We hesitate to try something new because of what could go wrong. We procrastinate launching a new idea because the unknown is uncertain. We spend too much time thinking what might happen rather than just seeing what does happen.

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