Deciding Not To Do Something

My partners at Foundry Group and I decided not to do something after a month of thoughtful deliberation. The decision is fresh so I’m not going to talk about the specifics, but our conclusion was that while it would be relatively easy to do and potential financially lucrative, it wasn’t consistent with our strategy.

I used it as an example this morning during my run with @reecepacheco about fully engaging with your mentors. While we could have made this decision on our own, we talked to a number of people who we consider our mentors (including several peers, investors of ours, and folks that have been doing what we’ve been doing a lot longer than we have), got their direct feedback, synthesized it, and made a decision. Of course, we had plenty of conflicting data, but it was all additive to our decision. And it was ultimately our responsibility to make the call on what we wanted to do.

During my run this morning, Reece and I also talked about fully engaging in the thing you are currently involved in. Reece and his partners are about half way through the 90 day TechStars NY program. He had lots of great feedback for me on his experience to date, but also had lots of questions about what he was doing and how he was approaching things, especially as he looked forward beyond the end of the program. I reinforced that he’s in the program for another six weeks or so and, rather than worry about what to do post-program, he should stay fully engaged in the experience he’s having now.

These two concepts are linked back to the notion of “Deciding Not To Do Something.” In the case of the decision my partners and I made, by listening to our mentors and being fully engaged in the business we are currently in, we decided not to do something that would have been an unnecessary distraction. Part of being fully engaged is understanding clearly the strategy you are executing. In our case, it’s a long term strategy that we are playing out over 20 years from when we started in 2007.

Sure, we’ll adjust tactics on a continuous basis, but we always measure what we are doing against or core beliefs that are the underpinnings of our strategy. And, while tempted by new and interesting ideas, we use these core beliefs to help us decide when we shouldn’t do something, even if it looks attractive.

We also revisit our strategy on a regular basis. We talk about it quarterly and do a deep review – both looking backwards and forwards – once a year. While we evolve parts of it over time, our clear understanding of what we are trying to accomplish helps us have clarity when presented with a strategic option that we shouldn’t pursue.

I find deciding not to do something to be incredibly liberating intellectually and emotionally. And, when I leave a big new idea on the cutting room floor, I make sure I sweep it into the trash and move on, never questioning the decision.

Reece – thanks for the early morning run, the talk, and the opportunity to talk this stuff through in advance of writing this post. Stay in the moment and keep kicking ass.