There’s a Greek parable I heard recently from a VP of Sales about the Hedgehog Concept. The parable goes, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”
|Copyright © 2001 Jim Collins. Originally published in the book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t.” Image source: https://www.mindtools.com/media/Diagrams/Hedgehog-Concept.jpg|
|Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, May 2017. Image source: https://cdn.chiefmartec.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/marketing_technology_landscape_2017_thumb.jpg|
- The stage of the startup can influence the roles available. Generally, company growth can be split into a handful of stages — early, growth, and maturity. Early-stage companies are still figuring out product-market fit. They can change direction very quickly. Growth-stage companies are starting to optimize for scale. Here, roles are less “wear many hats” and more “this particular hat”. Mature companies go even finer with roles (sub-functions). As a prospect considers a role at a company, s/he needs to realize the agility that may be required. After all, most folks who ask about startups mention their interest to do many things.
- How much funding has been raised — number of raises, how much, how many investors. Investors are pouring money into some companies to get in on potentially lucrative gains. Venture capitalists (VCs) are hoping to make up for that one big win in 20 companies invested to cover the fund and make significant returns. The more money, the more rounds of raise, the more investors mean the more pressure and expectations there are for timely returns. This pressure is put onto the executive team which will continue to flow down to every position of the company.
- … about money raised, think about what the goal of the company and its shareholders may be. Is the goal to create a company that lasts and stays private (rare in the tech startup world)? Have a liquidation event (most common desired state, i.e. acquired by another firm)? Go public via an IPO? Whatever the strategy of the company is in funding, consider what the possible outcomes may be 2, 3, 5, or even 10 years down the road.
- Again, what are you really after? Clayton Christensen, author of How Will You Measure Your Life, developed the Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework. He posits that everything we do or have has some purpose in life… a “job to be done”. In this way, what is the job the literal “job” should provide? Is it just money? Is it some fulfillment? Is it a place to meet friends? A startup is a company that provides goods or services to drive shareholder value. A corporation is no different – they’re all companies. How one startup executes its vision can be different from any other startup. This applies to large corporations as well. Thus, maybe what one is looking for is less about “startup” or size of company as much as it is purpose and vision or role.
Think about it. What’s your vision for yourself? How does your right-now fit into that vision? What does a startup offer that a large corporation may not? Or vice verse.
- Satya is very open in the book about his family, and how his family has influenced how he envisions Microsoft’s purpose in the world – its WHY as Simon Sinek would put it. He opens up about the impact of his son, Zain, who is severely disabled. At one of his son’s appointments, Satya describes being in wonder of how Microsoft products were used everywhere in the hospital. It was at that moment he realized the importance and impact his company has in the world helping others.
- One of the first tasks Satya did when he took over the helm as CEO was to re-engage people. He reached out and spoke to as many Microsoft employees as possible and Microsoft’s partners and customers. If you hadn’t guessed by now, culture is so important to the Microsoft CEO.
- I believe one of the greatest results of Satya’s work and connection to his employees has been building adaptability and agility to the organization. For many years, Microsoft laid stagnant in innovation choosing to stick to its licensing deals and keeping its products away from other ecosystems. Satya saw the larger opportunity with the cloud and changed the company’s many product roadmaps – shifting to subscription-based programs, focus on enabling others with its software no matter the platform (i.e. building new partnerships with Apple, its fiercest competitor).
- Satya’s bet on the future is largely in three areas: mixed reality, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. The latter, I still don’t understand. Satya has certainly invested more and more resources into these areas – seeing firsthand the implications of not being a leader in mobile when Apple and Google did. Now, he’s pursuing leadership.
This is not a traditional “self-improvement” book I’ve enjoyed in the past. Instead, this book helps highlight a now-CEO. All this being good fodder for me to continually think about as I continue to lead my company.