Episode 2: As COVID-19 winter begins, what news does the raven bring?

Founders, it’s not enough to have a crisis action plan. You also need clear trigger events on which you agree you’ll take the next step. Lack of clear conditions for an action to be taken is the biggest flaw in most startup disaster planning.

This is episode two, here is episode one and episode three.

I’ve started rewatching Game Of Thrones with my wife and son as my wife hasn’t seen it before, and well, we’re in ‘iso’ — pandemic isolation, with some time on our hands. So my head is full of Game of Thrones metaphors and analogies.

The White Walkers aren’t going to wait for you to finish your debate about whether to take the next step in your plan.

The TV version of Game of Thrones is an overlapping series of narrative arcs where groups of characters are presented with early indicators of growing threats. At first, the indicators are uncertain: did the deserting ranger really see White Walkers beyond the wall? As the days pass, more indicators arise, often on a little paper scroll carried by raven. Can the raven’s intel be trusted? Should we take precautionary action now? How many scenarios should we plan for? How bad could it get?

A lot like being on the leadership team of a startup during a pandemic!

If it’s time to act, there’s no time for “should we/shouldn’t we”

In bush fires, tornadoes, tsunamis and White Walker invasions, people die if they change their minds too late from “stay” to “go”. Startups can also die needlessly if leadership decide too late to enact next stage of their emergency plan because they were never clear on triggers.

If you’ve got a plan and you’re already taking action, that’s awesome. Make sure you agree as a team what the triggers will be for the next phases of the plan. Don’t waste time arguing about whether to go or stay when you can hear the White Walkers advancing in the distance.

Don’t die

The goal is to keep the company and the IP alive, perhaps in hypersleep for a year or more if necessary. Australia doesn’t have Chapter 11 protection for companies, so if as a director you are concerned that your startup may not be able

A glass half full way of looking at it is: what are the revenue, sales pipeline value and opex numbers the team must hit to *not* take the next step in your crisis plan?

I’m Alan Jones, an EiR for startup accelerators, GP at M8 Ventures. Previously investor, founder, and early Yahoo PM. Opinions mine (but should also be yours).

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