Below is a memo I wrote to the company in February. Many ceos face similar challenges of keeping a growing, and in our case regulated, organization executing with the same relentless and risk-taking spirit of the early days.

I thought I’d share my memo for other ceos that are facing similar challenges. The good news is that it is fixable and three months later we at Carta have gotten much of our stride back.

A Bias to Action

I want Carta to be a Bias to Action and a Bias to Yes company. Many great ideas start out looking like bad ones and few people are able to see how an idea today could change our world tomorrow. That is one of our competitive advantages at Carta. We are able to believe in the outline of a new idea before we can see the details of it.

To help us get back to these roots, here are a few ideas I hope will help. Carta is the following:

1. High-velocity
2.
MVP first
3.
Iterative
4.
No bureaucracy
5.
Unafraid to try new things

Let me talk about each of these in turn.

1. High-velocity

Velocity does not equal haste. It is possible to deliver high quality work at high velocity. The way to do that is to have a maniacal focus on the fastest path to value. Most delays in projects are not because the person was trying to avoid low quality work. Most delays are because the team wanted to do too much and spent weeks working and planning, and ended up not doing anything at all. If we narrow our focus to the increments of value we are delivering, we can ship quality with velocity.

High-velocity means relentlessly shipping your work product to someone who can give you feedback every day, every week, every month.

2. MVP first

This is part of being high-velocity. You can only be high-velocity if you are shipping things, learning from them, and shipping more. We should be shipping MVPs of any work product including internal memos, presentations, financial models, and product. When we do, we will accelerate learning and velocity in all areas of our business.

3. Iterative

In our line of work there are very few Big Bang opportunities. Almost everything we do can be broken down into smaller and smaller mile-stones, or mile-pebbles. Over time, the mile-pebbles add up to become boulders. And each time we execute against one of these mile-pebbles, we get better at executing. Speed of iteration is the single biggest determinant of how good our product and organization will be. It reminds me of the running adage — if you want to run a marathon a lot faster, practicing running each mile a little faster.

4. No bureaucracy

Another way of thinking about bureaucracy is that bureaucracy solves for the institution. We should be solving for teams. If we are putting in frameworks and tools to help those teams thrive within our institution then we are supporting them and removing bureaucracy. If we are making them do things that don’t help them but help the institution then we are introducing bureaucracy. The first is good. The second is bad.

5. Unafraid to try new things

In our business, the risk of not trying a good idea is far more damaging than the risk of trying something that doesn’t work. But most people are criticized for what they do rather than what they don’t. And so we have a bias to inaction, to not change things. There is no risk in the status quo. There is only risk in changing it.

Let’s fix this. Carta is a fearless company. We are unafraid of trying new things. When we have a good idea let’s run with it. Don’t hold up ideas because we worry about what bad things, often edge cases, could happen. Instead of talking about what could go wrong, talk about what could go right. Unlock more ideas, more creativity, more autonomy, and more progress.

In summary, get shit done. If you are unsure if something will work, find out. Don’t sit around arguing about it. And don’t block others from trying to find out if something will work. Just try. Have a bias to action.

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CEO at Carta

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