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Leaping Into The Orbit, Breaking The Successful Jig

Micro-managing a successful process by the founding team means that their value addition is declining with each interference

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A startup company tries a lot of thing all at the same time, it succeeds in few and those successful ones are repeated. Which is to say that all the resources are deployed to keep repeating the successful tasks. This means successfully running on a treadmill and increasing the speed every day but not really reaching anywhere. Most startups and sometimes large companies and successful CXOs fall into this trap.

When the process for successful task is well established it should be given up by the top level and allowed to run on itself. This is what creates independence and responsibility within the team. Micro-managing a successful process by the founding team means that their value addition is declining with each interference.

This micro-management also creates the impression of busyness but works against the long term success of the startup. Repeating successful tasks may not help the startup break into the next orbit. Which is why the founders or the founding team needs to be careful about tasks which are repeating itself. They need to be conscious of this success trap that binds them to an orbit. There are several entrepreneurs I know who have been running businesses for 20 years and more but the size is still small, the team still puny and dependent on the founder to take decisions.

The founders feel that if they let go of the task they will fail or it will not be perfect. A conscious effort has to be made by them to wean away from work and focus on building the next level of target. This happens with individuals too and they also stop growing if they just focus on the successful steps and keep repeating them. The old adage of what you got you from point A to B may not get you to point C.

The telecom industry or the incumbent players like Airtel, Vodafone, RCom and Idea are an example of successful managers repeating what made them successful and destroyed their business model. In the process of being successful, they forgot to see Reliance Jio coming as the biggest threat. A threat that took almost seven years to materialize but none of them prepared for it. As a result, now their whole business is at risk, Vodafone is merging with Idea. Rcom is consolidating with MTS and Aircel. The fundamentals of the business has become so weak that they feel by consolidating the sum of the weak will be bigger. All these companies had very successful founders and CEOs on top who were cited as paragon of entrepreneurship. But they failed to listen to consumer, they failed to build a sales engine, they failed to invest capital in the next generation data networks. Any freshly minted MBA would tell them that all these are strategic mistakes.

The focus on the consumer and what he wants has to relentless. Especially when he does not voice his demands openly. In a startup the resources, people and time everything is scarce. Allocating time for the team is sometimes becomes the responsibility of the founders.

Therefore a revaluation of where the scanty resources are applied is very important. I recently attended the TIE Delhi India Internet Day and a workshop on design there. Now, I am a bit of sucker for design, though I hate the convoluted language that the designers use. But this one was being carried out by Jay Dutt of Make My Trip, had some really interesting insights.

One of them resonated with me very loud, as we are in the process of revamping our app at LocalCircles. This was on what is the emotion connect with the user is there anything which brings a smile on his face or treats him more like a human. Airbnb is often cited as an example on how it interacts with the user.

What Airbnb does cannot be replicated exactly by every app out there. There is always place to be a little funny or helpful in each interactions. When every app is trying to be so clever in predicting the user journey and expecting the user to be only logical. Is there really space to be funny. Engineers always see funny as frivolous part in the design. Designers feel that funny is what makes the app cool.

The question is in a startup when maintenance and routine upgrades take all the time. Will the founding team allocate scarce resources just to make the user smile.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
startups management cxo consumer

K. Yatish Rajawat

K Yatish Rajawat is a digital strategist and policy commentator based in New Delhi, he tweets @yatishrajawat.

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