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Startup management – exactly how is it different?

Almost all of us who work in technology innovation would agree;  This is very different to blue chip work.  But what exactly makes it so?  Is it the ability to get a lot done on a little money?  Is it flexibility?  Is it even the evident passion so many of us bring to this kind of work?

My colleague David Falzani put his finger on it recently.  “It’s this”, he said.”  In companies you use destination based thinking.  In startups you use iterative thinking.”  Destination based thinking you envision the goal, work back from it, and allocate resources to get from A to B.  In startups you mostly can’t do this.  You normally cannot see B from A.  So instead of calculating back, you iterate forwards.  You craft and test your product and market hypotheses.  You feed the data back in, you run the experiment again.  It’s a mix of intuition, creativity and rigorous analysis, a continuum of discovery, both intellectually and market-based.  It should be cheap, fast and empirical.  More importantly, it’s the way to avoid investment train wrecks.  That’s what makes startup management different.