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  • mattheelan

How mature is your organization?

Since I began my career in 1995, I have worked for 6 different entrepreneurs/founders. All of these individuals started these companies and have since either sold the company, closed the company or they still exist. I have kept a journal of all my observations of the organizations and the Entrepreneurs/Founders I have worked with. The majority of these notes were for me to be able to learn from the strategies that worked and to be able to learn from their failures or challenges. I recently went back through these notes to understand what some of the common themes were around their challenges. Here are my notes:

  • The technical founder failed to acknowledge how his/her role needed to change for the long-term success of the company based on where he/she was at in the company maturity process. Over the course of time companies, leaders and team members go through a maturity process. Note: I created a maturity assessment checklist and matrix to understand a common way to understand where each company is within that maturity timeline.

  • Entrepreneurs/Founders failed to acknowledge their lack of business acumen and waited too long to hire the necessary people or team. A relatively old book but still some relevant content around this topic can be found in the EMyth by Michael Gerber.

  • Entrepreneurs/Founders failed to pay attention and respond to trends in the marketplace for their product or service and then lost their competitive advantage. Think of Polaroid not responding quickly enough to digital transformation. Note: Although there has been a resurgence as the old is now new again.

  • Entrepreneurs/Founders lack the ability to leverage or learn from their network/community. When the business is struggling, his/her unwillingness to rely on their network or community for help. I think if you are willing you can find your community of executives who have already lived through some of the challenges you are facing. I always find it surprising when I still talk to CEOs who think they are the only ones that can solve their issues or problems. The organization and maybe your board may not tolerate this approach or attitude.

  • Entrepreneurs/Founder's inability to think strategically about innovative ways to grow the business beyond traditional methods. (new markets or new applications of a product or service). I worked for this company that built software for the fintech world. They had one product that they kept iterating around but the idea of building anything else for a different industry or selling services around that product was just foreign to the leadership team.

  • Entrepreneur/Founder failure to hire competent executives and leadership team members. Also, inability or unwillingness to fire incompetent executives or leadership team members. The old term is “hire slow, fire fast.” I have witnessed more damage done by CEOs to their own organization because they were unwilling to fire underperforming leaders. Conversely, I have observed senior leaders unwilling to pay top dollar to executives that could take their company to another level.

  • Entrepreneurs/Founders ignored or did not understand how to build a culture of excellence. Yankees vs. Brewers. The Yankees have won 27 World Series titles. The Rangers, Padres, Brewers, Mariners, Rockies, and Rays have never won a world series. I have worked for companies that were considered the Yankees of their industry and the culture was so distinctly different, expectations were high from each other, and being really good was always a lot of fun.

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