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Startup Management Series III – “End product each day”

When you ask, startups usually are “just about to complete” something big. A new product, a new sale, a new partner.

However, most never complete or finish anything well. There are no end products, just things in progress.

This is deadly.

The end product each day –mentality focuses your team to deliver. It has two parts:

  • First, “end product” means that you always deliver something tangible and complete. As an example, you don’t create ideas how your next product will be like, but you present the full product spec. End products take company forward, while half-made drafts only create unnecessary internal meetings and debates.
  • Second, “each day” means that progress is constant and delivery cycles are short. I personally believe on daily deliverables. Working in a startup means enjoying the brain dash to get things completed at a constant pace.

Having the End product each day –mentality installed into your startup is very powerful. The entire team will have a culture that focuses on accomplishing, not doing. This is a bigger thing than personal effectiveness alone.

This is the third part of Startup Management Series based on my experiences and the culture we institutionalized at CRF Health. The earlier parts discussed “Deliver or die” and “There is no place to hide” principles that are inevitable for every successful startup to follow.

Startup Management Series II – “No place to hide”

Following my earlier post on the “Deliver or die” –mentality, here is the principle #2 from CRF Health:

There is no place to hide

Tons of strategy books have been written about measuring performance and making people accountable. I propose that startups need to take this to the extreme: everyone’s performance is fully visible to all, with no place to hide.

This creates high performance culture: the ones not performing drop out without needing to fire them, while high performers enjoy the continuous learning and an environment that moves on. Also, if executed well, the ones leaving will get a good reference: they were part of the high-performing team and in any event are well above the standard.

In this culture, it is ok to fail. Failing is different to low performance. Consequence management needs to be clear and quick. If you allow people (and especially yourself as a manager) to hide, it will spread.

Any downsides? It is difficult to implement in a sophisticated manner, and can easily kill creativity – and even create fear. Performance means different things by environment, and that needs to be taken into account carefully. You run Navy SEALs different to a symphony orchestra.

My experience is that the most competent and creative people will love this – and ultimately demand it to stay and be happy.

Startup Management Series I – “Deliver or Die”

When we started CRF Health in 2000 – currently the global eDiary leader (yes, really, “global” and “leader” are not the traditional marketing jargon here) – we set three management principles.

Deliver or die is the first one.

In 2000 there were 200-300 eDiary startups in the world, and today there are three left who share the market: At least our princples did not prevent us from becoming #1.

The deliver of die -mentality is in the heart of every successful startup. Strategy and unique ideas are important, but ultimately, they are only the platform to deliver. One should consider all strategies, slides and spreadsheets being invented. You should also consider at least two or three teams doing exactly the same thing as you are, somewhere in the world at the same time – and as excited, as competent and as advanced as you are.

Strategies and slides do not win in the startup market. It is about being two to three times faster, better and more agile in execution, never accepting compromises. This hard-sounding mentality needs to be become the DNA of everyone in the team.

When a startup has the deliver or die -mentality, it is difficult not to succeed.