There are quite a lot of the things that could kill a successful company, but one of the cruelest one is inertia. Probably everyone already knows the story about a boiled frog, and inaction is precisely the same story but about the boiled company.
Very often executives realize that something is going in a wrong direction, but it is already too late to fix it because some new guy on the market is only just crushing it, or the price to fix the issue is incredibly high.
Over the week, I figured out four different kinds of inertia that present in the startups and eating it alive like rust eat the metal.
- Technical inertia. Most of the technological companies start as very innovative and runs extremely fast to get faster to the market. They often use cutting edge technologies and tools, but with years and code base grows, tools became obsolete and adoption of the new solutions too expensive. The company now in a terrible position, because with each year past it is harder and harder to find people who still can work with old tech stack, new frameworks and libraries helping competitors to build things faster with better quality and smaller release cycle.
- Cultural inertia. It is a "great" way to cut off the source of international and talents that do not look like you. Most of the companies start by the few friends, and with time pass, startup grows to a significant size. If the founding team represent the same homogeneous group, share the same mother tongue and cultural background, it could be very challenging to grow the team outside of this small bubble and make it truly international. There are many reasons for it, for example,, foreigners could feel themselves unwelcome and out of context because the company simply is not used to multicultural stuff.
- Product inertia. This type of inactivity easier explain by example, let's look into the banking system, banks are leading in the financial industry for many years in a row until recently when dozens of crypto solution and FinTech startup like Transferwise start eat old banking system alive. Why did this happen? The answer is self-evident because the old product did not satisfy the needs of the people, and old suppliers were unable to provide the service in a new way. Usually, innovations in the products happen when there is a person who does not know or too stupid to understand that it is impossible to do something, so they just do it, while oldies and smarties know for sure that this can't be done.
- Processes inertia. When enterprise stop fighting for existence, and everything become predictable and manageable to understand, it became to easy to stick with something that used to work for you and stop exploring new approaches and technics. There is kind of a business proverb - "What bring you here won't bring you there." This statement is true for organizations as well, whenever the organization sticks to some processes, it closes some opportunities for grows. Imagine the situation when the company is stick to the rule, that everyone has to work only from office, with a rise of remote work trend more and more workers will simply reject the job offers and company will loss best talents.
It is essential to pay attention to the first signs of the inertia on the different levels in the organization and try to overcome it with proactive actions. It could be free time to explore new technologies, English as a primary communication language in the company, zero critiques of the ideas, and so on based on your own organizational DNA.