Let's face it, we all yearn for the easy answer to a thorny problem. This desire is rooted in basic human psychology, in which we embrace that which we know and understand. Routine is our friend, and we all receive great comfort from hearing the same words and doing the same thing over and over again. But simple solutions to complex problems fail. This applies to individuals and organizations alike.

For startup founders, we typically gravitate to those activities that make us most comfortable (coding or sales or product design).

Startup ecosystem builders tend to do the same thing (create and run events, raise a seed fund, coach founders, etc.).

Invariably we allow ourselves to think that our comfort equals truth, or in this case, progress. If we see and feel something over and over again then it must be true and important.

Unfortunately, this bias creates a perpetual personal validation loop.

Deep inside, most of us know the complex problem we are attempting to solve requires something much more than a simple solution. How can you create a spot-check or safety valve to guard against this natural tendency? Here are a few ideas.

Start with getting out of your own head! In startups and startup ecosystems, I like to say, "When you are the only one in the decision room, every decision is perfect." Find others who will test your assumptions, call you out on certain behaviors, and hold your feet to the proverbial fire.

Tools like the Lean Startup Canvas are built for you and your team to visualize all the major components of your efforts. Identify those tools that reveal all if not many of the individual aspects of your goal.  Many times, visualizing all the components will help you understand that the issue is too complex to call for a simple solution.

Once you and your team understand your efforts are complex, embrace the complexity and attack the problem with the best of a complex-system approach.  More on that later.

Published on: Mar 8, 2019
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