Embracing Speed and Decisiveness for Startup Success

As a founder in the challenging startup ecosystem, speed is your best ally. Naturally, every decision matters, but the obsession with always being right can be counterproductive. You know what’s better? Simple: prioritizing speed, decisiveness, and valuable feedback loops.

In a system built on experimentation and learning, where dynamic adjustments are key, the adage “fail fast and learn faster” must reside in every founder’s playbook. Here, the system’s input - your decisions - flows into multiple feedback loops to support continuous improvement. Decisiveness fuels this process, without sacrificing ample consideration.

Classifying Decisions

But how does one classify decisions as rapidly solvable or in need of further examination? Observe the characteristics of these two decision types:

  1. Low-risk, reversible decisions: These decisions have minor, recoverable consequences and allow for speedy adjustments.

  2. High-stakes, irreversible decisions: Decisions that carry weighty consequences and demand far more deliberation.

The crux of the matter lies in identifying the points in the system where speed outweighs the need for prolonged contemplation. It’s about striking a balance.

Low-Risk, Reversible Decisions

For low-risk, reversible decisions, startup founders should embrace decisiveness to expedite learning cycles and fuel the system. With small pivots, if you’re not entirely correct, the system allows for course corrections—no harm, no foul. In fact, these minor mistakes can turn into goldmines of knowledge and innovation.

High-Stakes, Irreversible Decisions

High-stakes, irreversible decisions require more discernment. Systematically weigh the costs and benefits and involve your team members while making ample use of available data. Visualize potential ripple effects across the system, creating a reliable map to pinpoint the nodes where your decision will touch. This method, while thorough, can still be efficient, as long as founders are careful not to succumb to endless pondering. Remember, even high-stakes decisions, once made, should be acted upon rapidly.

Be Decisive

Let’s be honest: nobody—founder or otherwise—can predict the future with unwavering accuracy. However, embracing speed and decisiveness, even when you’re not entirely certain, delivers iterative knowledge and allows your startup to navigate the unpredictable seas of the industry. Lessons from your missteps prove invaluable in refining your internal system, strengthening feedback loops, and directing your venture toward lasting success.

The takeaway? Balance decisiveness with consideration and emphasize speed over always being right. Unleash the power of fast feedback loops and watch your startup flourish in the perpetual learning playground.

Daniel Erickson is the Founder and CEO of Viable, a Generative Analysis system that helps teams make better decisions with qualitative data.