There is an expectation in startups that once a leader joins them; they should have a big win in the first 90 days.
I believe this is a wrong expectation to have and to set.
A new leadership hire in a startup should be spending their first couple of months in learning and assimilating the org context, not in making an impact.
Chesterton’s fence is the principle that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood.
Imagine there is a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”1
The undue pressure to show an early impact forces people to take short-term decisions detrimental to the long-term health of the company. It is like the person trying to tear down the fence without understanding why it was put there.
A new leadership hire should be spending their first couple of months understanding why someone thought it was wise to build the fence. Once they have this context, they can plan to pull the fence down. Or, maybe, there is a good reason why the fence exists, and it is not prudent to tear it down.
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