Focus on the Fundamentals: an Introduction

From Bill Belichick to Warren Buffett, fundamentals define the operations. The mission and objectives are known and clearly important, but they don’t drive the daily activity or even act as the primary motivation. Even at the youth sports level, coaches strive to teach the process of fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals over the outcomes of wins, hits, touchdowns, etc. We want that muscle memory developed so that during the game, especially in those stressful situations, the players naturally perform and can take comfort in their preparation. There’s always a lot to worry about, but it becomes much more manageable when the fundamentals have been been exercised over and over. At Transeo Partners, we stress the fundamentals across all the companies that we work with, with a view to helping them grow. The great organizations respect fundamentals more so than the outcome, and that drives operations and metrics, which in turn lead to success. It’s certainly important to celebrate and reflect on the results, but the real win is that journey of achievement.

Silicon Valley is the world wide headquarters of high-tech, but it has the propensity to focus solely on the results (see valuations and unicorns!) with stories of college dropouts starting a company, raising money from VC’s and becoming billionaires. All too often, the wealth becomes the lesson, and in turn, teaches people to act accordingly by creating an outcome-based culture. How many times have you heard company leaders state “Be the next unicorn” or “Valuation drives decisions.” Sounds awesome! But that’s not the recipe. And in fact, that approach can be incredibly dangerous and lead to unnatural behavior that actually works against success.

Wade Phillips, a highly experienced and respected coach in the NFL, was recently quoted while talking about his success in turning around defenses: “I attribute some of that to our teaching, the way we teach them. We don’t make many mistakes. We make sure we don’t make many mental mistakes, as far as alignment, assignment, and then we work really hard on fundamentals and techniques and try to improve each player.” Nothing about, we want four interceptions or two sacks per game. It’s about developing a culture of fundamentals that will in turn produce the results. In tech, it can be difficult to promote fundamentals over valuations as a way to achieve those aspirational goals. Yet without the fundamentals across key functions, sustainable outcomes rarely follow. Our experience at Transeo Partners has proven time and again how fundamentals can help individuals excel, make good teams great, and transform an interesting idea into a compelling business.

This introductory post will be followed by specific examples of how companies can create a culture of fundamentals across the various disciplines including business strategy, sales, product management and marketing.

– Jeff

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