Most Important Question: What did you learn?

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In thinking about startups, the ability to learn quickly and make decisions fast are two of the most important attributes of success. Whenever a colleague of mine stops by to tell me about a meeting, call, or event, my favorite question to ask is: what did you learn. The idea is that, yes, outcomes and results are critical, but learning from the experience is equally important.

A culture of learning, as opposed to purely minimizing mistakes and CYA, provides these benefits:

  • Team members are encouraged to experiment without fear of reprimand
  • Iterations are done quickly with the goal to learn and make another decision, as opposed to extensive planning to make the perfect decision absent information (perfect is the enemy of good)
  • Focuses internal hiring on people that are smart and get’s things done as opposed to exclusively requiring ones with extensive experience

My recommendation is to develop a culture of learning and incorporate it throughout the startup.

What else? How important is learning to a startup?

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