I was reminded of this on LinkedIn when I read a holiday greeting from a former colleague in my feed. He works in a very troubled industry, have had a super challenging year but was none the less grateful to be working on something with great purpose.
It’s all very well. But the trend line is still pointing one way. Down.
If you are working to serve a higher purpose, your biggest obligation as an executive or any sort of employee with just a minimum of clout should be to ensure that you can keep doing what you’re doing – fulfilling your purpose.
If that takes a change in business model, fine. It that takes change(s) to the product(s), fine. If that changes working hard on developing your mental model and understanding what it is that enables you to ultimately do, what you are out to do, fine.
But, for the love of God, don’t just lean back and reflect on your purpose, while the house is on fire.
One of the things we’re constantly looking for, when we’re talking to potential co-founders, is the ability to fall in love with the problem, we’re looking to solve. Either straight off the bat – much preferred but rare – or as something to grow easily into.
But is love of the problem always that great? Or does it need to be balanced out in some way?
The questions are valid insofar as one of the key contributing factors to startup failure remains building something nobody wants. And doing precisely that is what you’re very much in risk of, when you have fallen in love with the problem.
Because you want to solve it so bad that you jump for your first idea, give it your all, get it released and then…nothing.
When you have fallen in love with the problem, the hardest part is to remain true to a good and thorough discovery process.
You need to always think that even if you think you have already figured everything out, you know essentially nothing. And the path to that knowledge runs through lots of hypothesis, experiments and iterations while working into your offering what you learn along the way.
While it is easy to say, it is super hard to do in real life. I know; I struggle daily. But nonetheless I still try to be fully aware that the best way to ultimately help solve the problem, you have fallen in love with is to do it the right way.
And not fall of a cliff due to pure love and passion.