Paradoxical Singularities

In every single team and company lie singularities. They can be categorised as attributes of characters, skills or dynamics. Those singularities also express imperfections. And no matter how much we’d like those potential liabilities not to fatally affect the path of a company, they’re always part of the equation and more importantly part of the story.

We never know how those singularities will play out, if they will create a path towards success or deadly frictions. More often, they tend to trigger paradoxical effects like early strengths becoming future liabilities.

For instance, it’s not uncommon to witness a strong technical founder who will deploy tremendous energy and talent into building a state of the art product during the early days and that will later on struggle to build a team, to share ownership, to grow with the organisation.

What about this team of founders who has been addressing a very complex market. Their insanely thoughtful and accurate process of understanding has allowed them to build the best product and approach, as well as to avoid many mistakes along the way compared to their competitors. They’re on a path to build a very strong market leader. But now that they must accelerate their singularity is a speed restrictor that they must overcome.

All the imperfections triggered by those singularities need to be addressed. It is our responsibility as investors to help founders reflect on their characters. In order to do that, we must assess how they perceive, react and handle pretty much everything in their life: people, product, strategy, distribution, organisation, but also ambition, work-life balance, money, success. From there we are able to detect major behavioural patterns that will tell us a lot about their singularities and by extension their paradoxical imperfections.

Only from there we can help them grow up, well, fast and sustainably.

PS: On an opposite side, we can sometimes (but rarely) witness counter-intuitive effects. For instance from having a ghost-founder (someone bringing his presence at the office while faking his role), turning the other person into a super-founder, forced to compensate by learning and executing better, faster. A useless person can push another to work harder and better to strive and succeed.