My brother Scott, while preforming as an athlete for the Canadian Olympic Development Team, shared some really important insight once:
What is something every olympic medalist of all time has in common? … None broke their leg the week before the olympics.
In my shorthand: part of success is avoidance of failure.
However, even the professionals make this mistake. Chris Froome is a 4 time Tour De France champion who is paid $5M a year to lead his team to victory. He was poised for a 5th victory (tying the all time, non-doped, records) yet a couple weeks ago he crashed out (here). He literally manifested my brother’s fear. His chances of preforming went from bring a top contender to literally 0% in a moment.
Social psychologists and economists have known that people do not accurately analyze the potential for bad events to happen in the future (called Temporal Discounting). This is almost certainly good for the species, if we truly thought about all the potential bad things we would be paralyzed with fear. However, it is a horrendously bad mistake for the leaders of companies, especially startups where wild variability is the norm.
How do we solve for this?
At Delta Awesome we do four things to help our clients not crash out.
Third Party Perspective
Pattern recognition and obsession about the topic of causes of failure
We ask many, many questions
Our process is to contact our clients at least weekly to keep a pulse on the major decisions. We are able to offer a third party perspective or as one or our clients called it a “sound, outside mind — but inside the organization.” We see lots and lots of companies and, unlike others inside the emerging company space, we obsess about the topic of failure. In every strategy day (quarterly planning sessions) we finalize the plan by asking two related questions 1) are there any single points of failure in our plan and, 2) are there any multiple points of failure in this plan?
Typically there are distinct internal and external factors that can cause a crash but our client’s teams have all sat in a room, with us, to acknowledge, measure and manage them.
As simple as it sounds, in the last year we have experienced 0 company failures inside our clientele, which is massively better than we have seen in our previous jobs as startup founders, investors, or managers of accelerators.
CEO, Delta Aweasome