Transparency – It’s Bigger than Boardrooms Bits

Reinventing the board meeting may offer angel-funded startups that don’t have formal boards or directors (because of geography or size of investment) to attract experienced advice and investment outside of technology clusters (i.e. Silicon Valley, New York).

— Steve Blank, Why Board Meetings Suck – Part 1 of 2


Watch live video from Startup Lessons Learned on Justin.tv

Retrospective

In the spirit of Agile, here’s my retrospective on Transparency.

When the Boardroom is Bits

Steve Blank made a great case for changing the traditional, scheduled, physical approach to startup boardroom meetings by facilitating on-demand communication and transparency with the founders blogging about their activities. That way board members, advisors, investors, basically anyone with the right credentials can get up-to-speed at their own convenience.

But if;

A startup is a temporary organization formed to search for a sustainable*, repeatable and scalable business model.

– Steve Blank (*Ash Maurya helped me with “sustainable”)

then we have to think bigger than the boardroom.  We have to think about transparency throughout the startup’s life cycle. Not just for board members but for the Founders and everyone else involved – to some degree.

Transparency

Imagine a new stakeholder comes aboard. Whether they be an Internal Stakeholder – like an advisor, or, an engineer, or, an External Stakeholder – like a customer, or, business partner, they’ll have to get up to speed. Having crucial decision-making data hidden in scattered “My Documents” folders, personal Calendars, or, email just doesn’t scale. Attachments, CC & BCC lists are error prone & disasters waiting to happen.

And it’s not a matter of who to blame. It’s not a matter of what was right, or, wrong. It’s a matter of knowing what decisions were made, at what point in time and with what available resources.

Collaboration Tools

Integrated collaboration tools like blogs, wikis, discussions, events, videos, audios, shared images, bookmarks, files & yada yada yada have been around for years. Personally, I’m a big fan of Cynapse’s cyn.in suite and that’s why I became a Business Partner. I use it for AnotherSocialEconomy.com and even in my daughter’s elementary school and high school. (See edu)

But more important than the tool themselves, is their content.

Content Rules

In my past eLearning-Labs CTO life, my CEO & President – Rick Felt, who came from the publishing business, had one rule – Content Rules. So while the tools are nice the real Lesson to Learn is content is everything. Whether it be as deceivingly mundane as meeting minutes, an advisor’s feedback, or, a Customer’s user experience, it’s imperative for it to be all searchable & accessible to those with the right credentials.

One more thing….

The only thing better than having an integrated suite of collaboration tools, is having that content linked to your Business Model, your Agile project management software and your source control. In AnotherSocialEconomy‘s case, we link our Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas, cyn.in, Pivotal Tracker and github sites. So we not only offer Transparency but, Traceability & Accountability as well.

Wouldn’t it be great if..

EricRies' Validated Learning Cycle, cyn.in, Ash Maurya's LeanCanvas, PivotalTracker, GitHub

Imagine if accelerator and incubator programs sublet virtual collaboration Space to each of it’s portfolio members. Then not only, do those startups benefit but so do the all of the Internal and External Stakeholders – well beyond the calendar limits of those programs. Now that would accelerate the validated learning cycle & extend Boardroom Bits.

 

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