When you acquire a startup, there are a million integration tasks that you need to attack. One of the more complex (risky) items is around company culture! The acquirer just adopted an alien culture, which upon integration is most often turned into a polite ask of the acquired employees to shed themselves from prior habits. It is most often the correct ask but still a very delicate request, to say the least.

Why am I saying the obvious? I did a talk to a group of founders the other day on the Startup Exit / PMI process and found the perfect picture to illustrate this particular challenge and I had to share it :-)

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I am a massive fan of building a culture of directness, making it easy to tell anybody at any time that the work they did was not good. Feedback without unnecessary packaging and clear statements on what actions they should take to improve. And vice versa, of course, comment as freely on stellar performances, so they can continue to train that muscle. Some people might initially be hurt or offended, but my experience tells me your teammates ultimately appreciate it.

*Directness does not equal rudeness. And Directness is not to be confused with Transparency, which is another one of my preferred company values.

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I am a fan of short sprints — preferably weekly. The longer the sprint, the more likely we are to work on assumptions, independent of how many user interviews we’ve done. Working on assumptions (gutfeel, if you will) is a product feature fit lottery. You rarely win the lottery. Any new product feature should be broken down into, if possible, atomic units that fit into a single sprint and pushed to production, and at best, be attached to a customer-facing component. If you are ambitious, or perhaps this is just a fetish of mine, product marketing is closing the loop with a public “launch” in some capacity.

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