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VUCA Definition & Startup Correlation - Entroids


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Title: VUCA Definition & Startup Correlation - Entroids

Startups In VUCA WorldHandling Setbacks
  • By Vijay Kambhammettu

Startups In VUCA WorldExecution in VUCA world
is the 90 battle for success
  • eBook Content
  • VUCA Startup World
  • VUCA Drivers, Effects, Demands
  • Setbacks Are A Norm Today How To Recover
  • Business Model Failure Forget The Plan, Embrace
    Continuous Planning
  • Time Is Money - Avoid Missing Deadlines
  • Money Is Time Avoid Running Over Budget
  • Key Resources Are Your TIME MONEY Plan them
  • Continuous Risk Management Integral To Succeed
  • No Customer Traction You Have Not Dated Your
    Customers Enough
  • Success Planning Execution

VUCA Definition Startup Correlation
Introduction Startup Execution In Todays digital
age is filled with Volatility, Uncertainty,
Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA). Technological
innovations and ease in Information access will
continue to create exponential customer needs
that never existed before which are the prime
drivers for startups. Entrepreneurs are
distinguished with the FORESIGHT to create new
INSIGHTS in solving new problems with their
ACTIONS. In a linear world, a startup would
succeed by directing, predicting, knowing the
answers, controlling, managing, and doing more of
the same. The future is an extension of the past.
But, in a VUCA world - one filled with
Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity
- startups must change how they operate.
Volatility The nature and dynamics of change,
the dramatically escalating rate and speed of
change and the associated risks of instability
and flux. Volatility demands a willingness to
take action, to explore and probe in changing
conditions. BUT Volatility can cause fear,
risk-aversion and back- to- basics
reactions Uncertainty The lack of
predictability, and the sense of not knowing what
the outcomes of even known changes might be. To
operate successfully in Uncertainty, we must
develop a wider sense of the events and
conditions surrounding us. On contrary the
inordinate amount of data collected could lead to
execution paralysis. There needs to be balance
and some level of risk taking
Complexity The intricate relationship of systems
and their parts, the opposite of simplicity and
the multifaceted effects of multiple factors,
drivers, and influencers. Dealing with Complexity
requires us to stay focused on what we are trying
to achieve and to be flexible and creative in how
we carry out our intentions. But Complexity can
drive the unproductive behaviors of scapegoating
and black and white dualities Ambiguity The
fuzziness of reality and the state of an event or
situation that is capable of being understood,
made sense of or misinterpreted - in many
different ways. Ambiguous conditions demand
agility and require that we create conditions
that foster decision- making and innovation at
the front- lines. BUT Ambiguity often induces
doubt, distrust and hesitancy in decision making.
And it can stifle innovation
Understanding VUCA Impact DeeperImpact
Calls For
  • Risks
  • Instability
  • Flux
  • Take Actions
  • Probe Challenges

  • Nature Of Change
  • Dynamics Of Change
  • Rate Speed Of Change
  • Direction Paralysis Due To Information / Data
  • Wilder Understanding
  • Different Perspectives
  • Unpredictability
  • Potential Surprises
  • Unknown Outcomes

  • Unproductive
  • Dualities
  • Key Focus
  • Flexible Creative
  • Tasks Correlation
  • Multifaceted Effects
  • Influencers

  • Induce Doubt Distrust
  • Lapses In Decision Making
  • Hurts Innovation
  • Decision Making
  • Innovation
  • Ideal vs. Actual
  • Misinterpretations

Setbacks Are A Norm In Todays VUCA WorldTop 6
Setbacks That Todays Startup Face

Business Model Failure
Missing Deadlines / Lack Of Time
Financials Over Budget / Funding
Lack/Loss Of Key Resources
Hit With Unexpected Risks
No Customer Traction
Always celebrate small wins (Milestones) on your
startup journey in reaching the long term goals
Business Model FailureLeverage Business Model
Canvas in creating, delivering and capturing value
Business Model Canvas 9 Segment
Business Model Strategy determines WHAT to do.
The business model determines HOW to do it.
Strategy is the plan and business model is the
tactics. Your model details how to generate
profits. There are two sides to a business model
the revenue aspect and the cost aspect.
  • 6 Reasons For Failure
  • Problem Solution / Product Market fit.
    Mismatch between Value proposition and customer
    interest / segment
  • Financial Viability. When costs (Including
    Customer acquisition) exceed revenues generated
  • External Factors Poor risk management,
    competitive analysis, market economic trend
    analysis, and other external factors
  • Execution. 90 of startups fail due to poor
  • Continuous Adaptation. Past success hinders
    future planning by not allowing to think in
    current circumstances
  • Right Resources. Its people who make startups
    succeed. Wrong resource choice can hinder
    momentum very badly
  1. Problem How intense is the problem and how
    urgent is the need to fix it
  2. Customer Segments Who is/are the customers and
    collaborators (other users). Identify the early
  3. Unique Value Proposition Why your solution is
    different and worth buying
  4. Solution Features that address each problem
  5. Channels Distribution and paths to reach
  6. Cost Structure Identify costs, capital
    requirement, and your burn rate. Know breakeven
  7. Revenue Streams Pricing. Start with validating
    your premium pricing first. Estimate customer
    life time value
  8. Partners Capture key partners, collaborators,
  9. Unfair Advantage Why is it difficult for
    somebody else to copy

Business Model Canvas Created by Alex
Osterwalder is the first visualization of a
combination of the business model and plan. the
ability to succinctly capture the business model
on one page was powerful and widely accepted.
Originally developed by Alex Osterwalder
Key Omission Replaced Metrics with Key
Partners. has automated ways to
capture KPIs
Missing Deadlines / Lack Of TimeWhat Seems
Urgent Might Not Necessarily Be Important
Not Urgent
The Scenarios
All Startup Projects are executed through tasks
and every task has a level of urgency and
importance. Urgent Any task that needs to be
done right away. These are the ones that are
right at your face, screaming now. Problem of
the day, squeaky wheels, the naggers are examples
of what leads to urgent tasks. Important These
are tasks that contribute to the vision and
strategic needs. These help to achieve the goals
and objectives. Planning, Risk mitigation,
Validating assumptions, meeting deliverables etc
are examples of important tasks.
Quadrant 1 Urgent Important These are crisis,
problems and critical deadlines. Quadrant 1 tasks
get the first priority. This can be meeting
customer deadlines, investor presentations or
contract negotiations. Quadrant 2 Not Urgent
Important These tasks help achieve your goals and
strategic needs. They are important but dont
have a deadline. Typical tasks include planning,
risk mitigation, validating value proposition,
verifying the business model assumptions. Quadran
t 3 Urgent Not Important These tasks are
distractions and day to day fire-fighting
activities, these usually include helping other
people out. It is not necessarily bad but it
keeps you from doing other important
things. Quadrant 4 Not Urgent Not
Important These tasks are interruptions and
completely non value added. Internet browsing,
engaging in trivia, water cooler talks are some
  • Crisis management
  • Various Deadlines Customer Service, Regulatory
    Requirements, Quality Control
  • Fire fighting
  • Planning
  • Risk mitigation
  • Design validations
  • MVP testing
  • Verify business model
  • Budget control
  • Validate assumptions

  • Pressing Tasks
  • Distractions Email, Social Media
  • Urgent requests
  • Small quick hitter jobs
  • Popular Feel Good tasks
  • Trivia Busy Work
  • Escape Activities Internet, News, TV
  • Unimportant Emails
  • Unproductive Actions In Social Media

Not Important
The Secret to success
If most of the time is spent in Q1 it leads to
burn out and which leads to moving to Q4 to get a
break. Many people spend time in Q3 without
realization they perceive that it is a Q1 task.
The urge to think that everything urgent is
important takes over. To be effective, teams need
to spend time in Q2. This is where foundation to
greatness is achieved
Financials Over Budget / Under Funding2 Ways
to minimize budget overrun avoid immediate
Budget Components
The Golden 80/20 Rule
Follow MVP Approach
Startup spend money for two main purpose
Product Development Product Marketing.
Allocating appropriate budgets for both is very
critical as they need both spends to be
successful. Product Development Costs These are
the costs incurred to design, build and test a
product. Examples A Saas application, A Internet
of Things Device, .. Product Marketing Costs
These are costs incurred to reach your
customers, convince them with your value
proposition. Examples Social media management,
Customer visits, Promotional content,
80 of your spending comes from 20 required
resources for each of Product Development
Marketing. Identify what is the 20 resource in
each of the categories and shop around for the
lowest price without compromising on
quality. Typically, these are software or design
engineering resources required for product
development and content creation for product
marketing. Example In our startup, we have
offered equity to our software developer which
brought our costs down dramatically. Analogy We
can SAVE LOT MORE when we spend our 80 time and
effort in bargaining a house which is far less
then 20 of the activities we do in our life time
versus collecting redeeming coupons all along
the life
Build product in a iterative process to
continuously adjust your product or service to
fit the customer needs (Problem Solution Fit) and
to be able to do so economically with ability to
scale (Product Market Fit). A Minimum Viable
Product (MVP) is a means to test and validate the
startup hypothesis early in the process. The
inputs to a MVP are the assumptions around your
market and product strategy. The minimum viable
product is the embodiment of the assumption that
can be created quickly, and is something the
potential customer can interact with. A MVP is
not representation of the final product. An MVP
is not a one-time event. You should do it at all
stages of development however, as you reach
final stages, it will merge into your beta and
then final product. The result of the MVP
feedback should be to tweak and adjust your value
proposition and business model.
Lack / Loss Of Key Resource2- Step Resource Gap
Analysis To Have Right Resources Onboard
Identifying Resources
Step 2
Step 1
  • Evaluate each of the tasks or required skills
    identified to determine what to do yourself and
    what is best to seek partners. Keep skills that
    are central to creating customer value or enhance
    differentiation. Below is the criteria you can
    use to evaluate each skill or resource area
  • Valuable Is this skill valuable in increasing
    revenue or reducing cost
  • Rare Is this skill hard to find.
  • Inimitable This skill is not easily copied.
  • Non-substitutable Not many alternatives exist
    for this skill
  • Identify the areas that are valuable and rare or
    that cannot he imitated or substituted. These
    areas are critical to your success.
  • Typically, you will have two or three areas that
    are important. Assess if you have these skills or
    can develop it. You should not keep more than two
    critical areas to be able to do them well. Find
    partners for all other skill areas. Of the skill
    areas you keep internal, one can be your core
  • Identify the key skills of importance for your
    startup. Through the value stream, identify the
    tasks to be done and list them. A generic starter
    list is as below
  • Technology this includes RD, innovation. View
    this as the ingredients to make the secret sauce.
  • Product Development This is commercialization
    of the technology. This involves creating the
    product that can be repeatedly reproduced in an
    economical manner. Design could be a subset of
    this and again combine if it appropriate in your
    case. View this as the recipe for sauce.
  • Design This gives the idea a form be it a
    website or a product. This creates tangible
    personification of the idea. View this as the
    presentation / plating of the dish.
  • Manufacturing This is the process of converting
    the inputs into a saleable product. This is the
    cooking of the sauce.
  • Distribution This is getting your product into
    the hands to the users.
  • Network This is the rolodex required to make
    your startup fly.
  • Customer Acquisition and Retention This is
    about marketing, sales conversions and customer
    support. You should break them out if the skills
    or resources required to do this are different in
    your startup.
  • Management and Leadership This is probably the
    hardest, because a founder thinks he is always
    the best person to lead his company.

Your strategy determines what to do, and the
business model determines how to do. When you
have a fairly good idea of the strategy and
model, it is time to move on to Who. Startups
should not do it all. Trying to do everything has
the detrimental effect of spreading yourself or
your team too thin and also, it is expensive to
develop all the necessary skills internally. This
will affect the time to market, quality of the
product and drive up the costs. Rather than
trying to do it all, experienced founders know
what they are good at. They nurture their
strengths and grow it, while partnering and
outsourcing everything else. This is faster,
cheaper and better.
Resource Gap Analysis
Hit With RisksContinuous Risk Management Is Key
To Success
What Why Of Risk Mgt
  • Failure Path
  • Risk Impact Probability increases with improper
    / no risk management from the time capital is
  • Success Path
  • Upfront Identification, ownership, analysis
    mitigations reduce the Risks impact probability
  • Best Practices
  • Identify Risks Early
  • Analyze reprioritize
  • Develop mitigations
  • Allocate owners
  • Update re-identify continuously

Startup Path To Sucess
The pitfalls for not managing risks in a formal
planned process are huge in terms of schedule
delays, resource consumption, and opportunity
cost of not able to work on the right things.
Risk management is the process of identifying
possible risks upfront that could potentially
come up while adventuring into the business
world. Each risk has three critical components
associated with it probability of occurrence of
the risk, impact of the risk if it does occur,
and planned mitigation to avoid / minimize
it. Every startup tries to solve a new customer
problem or an existing problem in newer way. The
ambiguity and never been done nature of startups,
make it difficult for a founder to react to
startup risks mentally fast enough even to avoid
the smallest unplanned risk.
Entrepreneurs are, by definition are risk
takers. Strong risk management is an important
source of competitive advantage. You can beat the
odds and build a thriving and rewarding venture
by learning to recognize and mitigate
risks. Akira Hirai
No Customer TractionThe pursuit of traction is
what defines a startup success
Reasons For No Traction
19 Ways To Gain Traction
Best practices
  • Lack Of Customer Value Proposition. Validate
    early on if the problem exists and your solution
    is unique in solving it that customers would
  • Improper communication of value proposition. Get
    away from describing features and describe more
    on what can the customer benefit
  • Too many features to confuse customer with and
    loose sight of the key value proposition. Solve 1
    problem at a time
  • Looking for customers in the wrong places
  • Not leveraging the existing customers and
    focusing only further reach. Wow your customers
    to be your brand promotion agents
  1. Targeting Blogs
  2. Publicity stunts
  3. Unconventional PR
  4. Search Engine marketing
  5. Social Display Ads
  6. Offline Ads
  7. Search Engine Optimization
  8. Content marketing
  9. Email marketing
  10. Engineering as marketing
  11. Viral marketing
  12. Business development
  13. Direct Sales
  14. Affiliate programs
  15. Existing platforms
  16. Trade shows
  17. Offline events
  18. Speaking engagements
  19. Community building
  • Identify what customer traction technique works
    best for reaching your target customers and be
    really good with that. Dont spread yourself
    across all the techniques. When you have really
    mastered one, you can then try another to build
    upon the previous techniques
  • Hangout interact more where your customers are
    likely to hang out online offline
  • Dont forget to request existing customers in
    spreading the word. No better way to promote than
    your customers promoting you
  • Quality vs. Quantity of customers Know your
    customers well. In the initial stage focus on
    identifying your target customers (Quality) with
    your direct contact sales efforts. Once you gain
    momentum, you can then leverage digital marketing
    to reach the quantity of customers.
  • Have a customer acquisition plan and keep
    measuring against it at periodic intervals.
    Adjust your efforts / techniques based on the
    target vs actuals

Source How any startup can achieve explosive
growth traction By Gabriel Weinberg Justin
Handling Setbacks - RecapHow to recover quickly
Prevention Cure
Prevention Cure
Business Model Failure Focus on the most important Feature valuable to your customer and start charging early on . The sooner you experiment your startup hypothesis, validate assumptions, and mitigate risks the better chances you have in avoiding Business model failure Re-Analyze Problem-Solution Fit Product-Market Fit. Re-define and execute on your MVP. Take help from mentors peers. Discuss your business model with mentors and peers to bring further insights in Pivoting if required
Missing Deadlines / Lack Of Time Use of some project management tracking productivity tool is always better than conventional Excel. Always understand your teams important vs. urgent tasks and monitor continuously Focus On right tasks Step 1. Identify the critical tasks to validate your MVP Step2. Identify Risks Mitigations Step 3. Update your project management plan based on current status
Financials Over Budget / Funding Follow 80/20 rule in planning your budget controls. 80 of the costs typically come from 20 of the resources (Example software development) Spend enough time in evaluating the cheapest route on minimizing this 80 expense upfront More money is not the answer. Accept sunk costs, leverage implemented development efforts and re-examine the prevention approach mentioned
Lack/Loss Of Key Resources Identify critical resources (Skills) required upfront and evaluate outsourcing options for all the non critical resources required. Dont start capital spending unless you have key skills required within your team. Focus on finding the resource first. Development can always be expedited if right resources are onboard Let go of bad resources (people / tools, other) as soon as you realize they are not working, instead draining your energy. Find better resources by joining meetups were like minded skilled people are hanging out.
Hit With Unexpected Risks 1. Identify risks upfront 2. Analyze and prioritize them 3. Develop mitigation plans 4. Assign risk resolution owners 5. Update identify risks continuously Understand the Impact of Risk. Every problem has a solution. How soon can you solve it is the key to getting back on track. Talk to mentors peers for advice. Spend additional funds to address risk faster.
No Customer Traction Talk to real customers in person starting early on. Social media is wild, have a well thought customer engagement plan. Engage with customers continuously through out the development Assuming Product-Market Problem-Solution fit are validated, evaluate newer marketing techniques (Social media, Guerilla Mkt, Customer hacking). Refer to the 19 ways mentioned in this eBook try the next channel.
Success Planning ExecutionExecution is the
art of getting things done
  • Key Concepts For Success
  • perfect execution
  • strategic execution
  • the science of startups

Perfect Execution The best selling book by Larry
Bossidy and Ram Charan has the title Execution
The discipline of getting things done. Perfect
execution is an extension to this definition.
Startup life is chaotic and its easy to get
caught in the whirlwind of daily firefighting and
lose focus on more important things. Keeping
focus of the team and the habit of getting
important things done is the core of Perfect
Strategic Execution Key to success is simplifying
strategy to tactical activities that result in
achieving the goals and keeping the team focused
and getting these tasks done. The activities of
the team will be in flux depending on
circumstances. Keeping team tasks nimble and
aligned to strategic needs is the ultimate
challenge. It is the key differentiator for
winning at execution.
The Science Of Startups I wish we could say there
is a formula for success. Next best thing is to
use productivity tools that keep your team tasks
aligned to the strategic needs. One simple and
effective tool to use is the A3 Management
Process popularized by Toyota. At,
we understand the need for speed and consistency
in getting results. It is one way to automate
productivity and promote team accountability.
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to
victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise
before defeat. Sun Tzu
Thank YouPlease help improve and develop this
E-book to be the voice of Startups
About the eBook I hope you enjoyed reading this
mini eBook as much I enjoyed writing it. This is
a small step in the journey of studying the
secrets of success in execution. Please let me
know what you think of this eBook and of the I hope to improve this book
with your comments and experiences.
About _at_entroids is striving to
understand the hidden art of startup execution.
Our first step is to automate startup activities
for faster results and enhanced team performance.
About the Author Passionate and fiery cross
functional business leader, who earned his
living in product management and
development. Having worked over 15 years in the
HVACR and Electronics industry , one problem I
have faced always was lack of productivity tool
which would align the strategic needs with
execution continuously. With the diverse
experience in new product development, product
management , marketing business development
that I have I have partnered with my team in
solving this burning problem for product managers
and startup founders like myself. I am the
co-founder of Entroids a strategic project
management platform that helps startups and
corporations get better results faster in New
product development.
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