Sunday, June 1st, 2014


I ran a workshop for a large company that was in a tight time.  Tighter than usual.  And it bucked and kicked and complained about that new reality.
“If only” was the daily mantra.  If only we weren’t publicly owned!  If only my budget hasn’t held at last year’s level!  If only we were a small start-up company that didn’t have constraints like we do!

So I brought in a panel of start-up CEO’s to meet with the top fifty people of the older larger company to test the premise of constraints.

WELL, If you want to “get” constraints, try being a start-up.
Constantly out with your beggar bowl to investors
Constantly having to put your best put forward
Constantly having to think and adjust on the run
Constantly wondering when payroll won’t be there
Constantly knowing most start-ups don’t grow to be sold or established
Constantly being vigilant about everything all the time
Constantly juggling resources–no slack time–the adjustment hurts immediately
Constantly having every action defining the culture in real time
Constantly having to do any and every job if needed

Both parties (the large old company and the new start-ups) were stunned at the constraints that both faced.  Neither had it easier than the other.
BUT the lesson learned was that for good or bad the leaders of the start-up could not allow themselves to be constrained by the constraints.
They couldn’t afford it.  It was life or death.

They had to:
Think clearly and act quickly
Keep focused on growth
Stay lean
Be willing to step into any role
Have everyone’s back
Jump over fear on a daily basis
Keep in mind the goal that energizes them through exhaustion
Enjoy the challenge of it all or dwindle to a slow death
Sniff and churn and scrounge for opportunity
Never rest on achievement of the previous day
Celebrate wildly in order to keep on going on
Cast off anyone who can’t do the above
Remember that forward movement is the only option

SO–There will always be constraints.  As a C-level leader, don’t become on of them.  Stay start-up.


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