.: on the frontiers of venturing and venture investing :.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Measuring incipient instability

I've been thinking about what it is that really needs to be tracked in early-stage and transformative ventures. There certainly is the simple dynamic of financial viability and then there is the concept of productive, iterative exploration in the area of complex ambiguity I raised in an earlier post. I've been digging into what the measures are that actually help indicate the emergence of potential instability - before it's actually happened. That's the trick because learning that ap has exceeded cash + ar at the next board meeting isn't very helpful. And that's not such a rare scenario - e.g. customer holding 80% or your ar is suddenly unable to pay.

So what is it then that could be tracked. In my experience these things are often foreshadowed by either a lapse/misplaced/confusion of responsibility and/or changing dynamic in relationships. Seems to me that consciously tracking the trend in the key relationships (e.g. Strengthening, stable, destabilizing) and mapping the responsibilities for the key drivers/activities of the org may be the most enlightening things to monitor in terms of indicating potential instability. It shouldn't really be a surprise because relationships are the essence of cohesion in any venture particularly in those early stages of development.