Learning to think agile takes time and patients. It requires exploring alternatives and seeking new solutions or paths as needed. The skill is not always well developed in others thus requiring you become more careful in considering your alternatives and pursuing the best course of action.
As an example, take any standard agreement that becomes a contractual arrangement. It does not take very long for one of the parties to review the agreement and decide that some clause means something different than originally intended in preparing the contract. This often occurs at a time of confrontation or desire to renegotiate the agreement. Sometimes, there is no need for the interpretation differences to occur for one of the parties to abandon what was originally agreed to. Maybe an investor encounters an unexpected financial stress causing them to request the return of their investment. The company is hampered legally or financially and cannot or should not return of funds.
The source of pain for the party can be explored along with any alternatives. There are often times you must hold your ground and refuse to give what is being requested simply because it hampers your proper running of the business. At other times, compromise may be possible. Almost always, someone will feel they won and the other party will feel they lost. In fact, the loss may be a financial one that hurts more than the party requesting relief or the company attempting to compromise. An investor requesting concessions by the company may receive them, but the other investors and founders may suffer a hurtful valuation shift. Perhaps, the investor feeling pain continues to agitate and cause other investors to run from the company. The founders and remaining investors are hurt in this situation.
One thing is usually certain, the situation carries on for longer than anyone wants and harms both parties. The party feeling the pain may not be agile in their expression of the real issues. Perhaps they are not agile in their request for relief or their acceptance of alternative solutions. There may be no real solution and the party in pain does not want to adhere to the agreement stipulating the terms; even though they were acceptable in the beginning. What they want is relief at any cost regardless of impact to others!
Agile entrepreneurs must consider all alternatives and consequences in such contentious situations. Failure to look downstream and simply give in to end conflict is not always the best course of action. In the end, the way to make investors and partners happy is helping them make money. This does not need to occur at anyone’s expense. Focusing on achieving the business goals and excellent performance must lead to products and sales. Increased earnings come from great business which in turn leads to value accretion for partners and investors. That is an important fact to consider, but keep in mind the party in pain may not care! Sometimes they are willing to blow up the company to end their pain. This is why you must think agile and weigh your alternatives before selecting the path that seems to be the best. Then continue to reassess situations from time to time to make sure other issues do not arise that detract from the company.
Taffy Williams can be found on LinkedIn, Twitter @twilli2861, ColonialTDC , photo website, Google+, Facebook, and Startup Group. He has written more than 300 articles for: Startup Blog and Examiner Charlotte, NC- small business. More on the agile concepts may be found in soon to be released book: Think Agile