Trial and Error – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: July 30, 2022

Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders to better understand as they consider making a career transition from a large multi-national company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage business. The forward edge of innovation happens in the early-stage across all industries. Large companies have transferred massive amounts of resources from internal R&D functions to business development efforts focused on acquisitions and licensing deals as the primary means for remaining competitive in a global marketplace that continues to accelerate innovation outside of the 4 walls of large corporations.

Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. We hear from leaders everyday who are energized by leveraging their skills and experiences to create their own unique path to a fulfilling professional journey in the early stage. In addition, the risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.

The focus for today’s topic is on helping leaders appreciate the willingness to take risks, embrace failure and the “learn as you go” mentality of today’s early-stage companies. This trial-and-error mindset is dramatically different than a large company leadership mindset that has little tolerance for new methods.

In large companies, the risk to the current model (e.g., near term cash flow and fixed investments) are too high for big mistakes. In addition, most leaders from large companies have seen over time that mistakes are viewed as career ending and painful as opposed to opportunities to learn and grow. The “play the game, play it safe” mindset helps everyone sleep well for another performance period regardless of how urgently marketplace changes are emerging.

In the early-stage world, the view is fundamentally different. A critical component of success is that you take risks and often fail. The learnings gained are applied quickly and effectively to achieve the next level of growth. The team dusts themselves off, does an autopsy without blame, and climbs back into the ring.

Even though the learnings gained with this mindset are helpful to leaders in moving things forward, the reality is that sometimes mistakes in the early-stage can result in painful outcomes like a complete loss of investor capital, bankruptcy, litigation, etc. These are not the nice and clean “learnings” that we often hear from leadership gurus pontificating on the benefits of learning and growing from mistakes and failures. In the early-stage, we are talking about a real adult dose of learning that can cause real pain.

However, even with these painful lessons, the truth remains that failure and mistakes bring about great learnings.

Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market is fertile ground to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

Job Titles – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: July 23, 2022

This week we will continue the series on sharing key concepts for leaders to consider when thinking about making a career transition from a large multi-national company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage business. The trend continues to be observed with today’s Great Resignation and the reality for many that the concept of working for and retiring from one company over the course of a career is no longer the dream it once was and today’s leaders are yearning to create their own unique path to a fulfilling professional journey.

The focus for today’s topic is on helping leaders understand how job structure and job titles are viewed in an early-stage venture compared to those in a large company. Leaders who are emerging from a career in a large company and considering a move into an early-stage opportunity are often concerned with job titling (C-Suite, SVP, etc.) and role specificity (what are the objectives and responsibilities of my specific job).

One of the more striking realities observed by leaders transitioning out of a large company is that few, if anyone, cares about titles and role specificity, especially in the early stage. People (including investors in the business) are more concerned with establishing clear objectives for the business and how senior leaders effectively work as a team to accomplish the company’s critical milestones. Investors are not too concerned about someone’s sensitivities around their title or their need to build their own specific sandbox to play in. Delivering on the company’s milestones is paramount.   

This is not to say that order and organizational design are absent in the early-stage world, they are not. However, the emphasis shifts much more to the accomplishment of key milestones for the business and the team’s efforts, regardless of titles or departments.

A very common experience, especially in the early stage, is for the day (or evening) to start with a major problem that needs to be solved (i.e. a major customer is not happy, a test result can’t be delivered, a product falls out of specification with no back up plan, etc., etc., etc.).  Regardless of title and department, key leaders quickly gather around the table (or a Zoom call) and begin problem solving.  There is zero tolerance for anyone to even think about “hey, that is not my department” or “it is not within my job specifications”. The team has a problem, and everyone is needed to help solve it. 

Everyone is trained and expected to run to the sound of the guns to join the fight, which is different from what commonly happens in large companies due to the many department silos that are created.

Leaders who are focused on growing and learning, and not building more silos in an organization, get an amazing energy boost when they join a company in the early-stage that is focused on working together as a team with little to no concern about titles and departments. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, leaving our titles at the door and running in to help solve problems as a team is a foundational element to our leadership effectiveness.

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation in healthcare resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

The Weight of Decisions – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: July 16, 2022

This week we will continue the series on sharing key concepts for leaders to consider when thinking about making a career transition from a large multi-national company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage business. The trend continues to be observed with today’s Great Resignation and the reality for many that the concept of working for and retiring from one company over the course of a career is no longer the dream it once was and today’s leaders are yearning to create their own unique path to a fulfilling professional journey.

The focus for today’s topic is on helping leaders understand the personal weight that is felt in making decisions in an early-stage venture compared to those in a large company. Leaders emerging from a career in a large company are typically well grounded with a high degree of ethics. The values established by many large companies support an effective work environment and positive community engagement. Large companies train leaders well in delivering on these values to support a healthy culture for the business. These foundational experiences for leaders are critically important to writing their next chapter outside of a large company.

Based on some real-world experience and having guided others in this journey, leaders transitioning into an early-stage business will often feel they are somewhat alone on their own island in making some difficult decisions. Navigating complex business decisions in the early-stage often seem to land in a gray area versus the black and white ethical dilemma taught in leadership development programs in large companies. The fact is that the environment of a large company often makes these dilemmas easier to identify and address. When you add the pressure of investor commitments to achieve certain milestones within specific timeframes and the desire to keep the company moving forward with needed capital, the environment is ripe for ethical challenges in leading an early-stage business.   

We have all seen over the years some poor ethical decisions made by some leaders in an early-stage, rapidly growing business. It is only those who have been down this path who can appreciate that there are always two sides to every story — and often only one side makes it into the media. 

Early-stage leaders often find themselves faced with complex decisions with no one around to challenge the ethics, investors want results, and the timeline is blinking red/critical. Leaders in the early-stage often feel an immense ethical weight on their shoulders in making these decisions. Experience would say that a trusted advisor is often needed on an ongoing basis to support leaders in navigating these key moments.

A different level of pressure is felt when leading an early-stage company compared to the pressure of being a senior leader in a large company. The common thread of principle-based behavior and ethical decision making is present in all environments, but the support and guardrails are well positioned in large companies. They are not so present in early-stage ventures.  

We have found that leaders at all levels need the support of a trusted advisor to help them shoulder the burden of the many complex business decisions that also press hard into ethical “gray areas” in the marketplace.  As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, maintaining a principled approach to decision making is critical and we all need a trusted advisor to lean on for support in those dark difficult moments.     

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage of healthcare. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

Purposeful Work – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: July 9, 2022

Over the last few months, I have received a great deal of comments on the topic of making transitions in a career and the growing wave of interest into a more entrepreneurial career journey. The trend being observed with today’s Great Resignation and the reality for many that the concept of working for and retiring from one company over the course of a career is no longer the dream compared to creating one’s own path to a fulfilling professional journey has caused most leaders to take notice and look for guidance to build a plan.

Based on this interest, I will plan to share a series of learnings over the coming weeks on some key considerations for leaders to think through in contemplating the next chapter of their careers in a smaller, early-stage business compared to the large, multi-national, headline grabbing companies. My experience has been built more in the healthcare marketplace, but I will share some general concepts that are actionable to various markets and segments. Having guided many leaders through these decision points, my intent is to provide content that is practical and relevant across industries.

The focus for today’s topic is on helping leaders understand for themselves on a very personal level, where they feel most purposeful in making a difference with their professional efforts. The stark contrast in the mindset of leaders from large companies to those early-stage ventures is in where they feel most purposeful in making a difference. Both mindsets are relevant in the marketplace. It is a personal choice for a leader to make as to where they feel most aligned and energized.

Leading effectively in a large company consumes a massive amount of energy in keeping the internal machine functioning. There are a great deal of existing processes, financial trends and people involved that keeping the current machine functioning as effectively as possible is the primary intent of the leader. For some leaders, they feel most fulfilled in making a difference by helping the existing business run more effectively.

By contrast, leaders in early-stage ventures expend a great deal of energy on the more hands-on personal impact in creating and launching products and services and scaling the business to reach a sustainable level. Leaders in early-stage ventures find purpose in taking a risk to build something compared to risk of grinding it out and staying with a large company for what seems like the potential of a nice retirement package.

The mindset of leaders who find purpose in a large company or an early-stage venture are both meaningful and relevant. There needs to be no judgment by outsiders as to what is better or worse. Leaders need to do some introspection and come to a clear decision as to where they feel most purposeful at this point in their careers.  Once they make that decision, then the guidance on what step to take in the next chapter of their career becomes more practical and directed.

As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, we must be intentional about taking steps to ensure we have the skills and experiences necessary to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing marketplace. One of those important steps is determining for ourselves how we define purposeful work.    

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@david34873

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com. I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage of healthcare. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.

Career Transitions – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: July 2, 2022

Our newsfeeds are full these days with stories about the Great Resignation and the rising interest of a side-hustle career on the path towards a more entrepreneurial minded professional journey. The reality of our present time is that for all of us, we need to be considering and expecting a variety of transitions in our career journey. The dream of generations before us of working for one company (“a great company with wonderful benefits”) for our entire career is no longer a practical reality and it may even be a major hinderance on our professional growth and marketability during difficult economic times.

Having led several downsizings and restructurings within a “great company with wonderful benefits,” I have come to realize that the appropriate question is not “if” tough times come, the appropriate question is “when” tough times will come. We have to personally be prepared to answer the question of “Am I ready?” for those tough times. The marketplace is becoming more uncertain, complicated, and intense. We need to accelerate the development of skills needed to lead our teams and guide our personal career journey in order to remain relevant and survive.

As we continue to work on building and strengthening our leadership, one of the considerations we need to think through is, “When is the right time for me to make a change in my career path?” Having been through a few transitions myself and guided some close friends through a few transitions as well, I have come to appreciate a few tell-tale signs that it is time to make a change.

Below are a few signs to consider within your own personal career journey. These signs are not intended to be clearly seen over a few short months, but more like observations over several years along a career journey.  

  1. We have stopped learning and growing. When we reach that point where the day-to-day work becomes an efficient process and we find ourselves being relaxed and comfortable more days than being a bit concerned that “I need to pick up the pace or else…”
  2. When our company has limited opportunities for new experiences and new roles. This can come about through headwinds over time from external events, but more practically speaking, this can come about from a company’s talent management process that values you gaining more functional expertise vs. cross-functional expertise or when you realize that you just don’t have enough internal support to secure that next great assignment because of an abundance of talent in the company or when there are just very few great assignments given the long term performance of the company.  
  3. When our company leadership seems to be more determined to support the current operating model vs demonstrating a willingness to embrace the accelerated pace of change in the marketplace. When leadership seems to be “riding out the storm until retirement,” we run the risk of us personally being “Amazoned” out of existence.  

As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, we must be intentional about taking steps to ensure we have the skills and experiences necessary to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing marketplace.    

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is david@harvesttimepartners.com

Please download some FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com

I hope you will find them helpful in your journey.