The Broken Windows Crime Theory Applies to Startups

Every detail counts. It isn’t that every detail needs to be planned in advanced but that every detail needs to be addressed. According to Wikipedia, the Broken Windows Theory says the following:

Monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition may stop further vandalism and escalation into more serious crime.

For startups, it isn’t about further decay but rather about setting the tone organization-wide that details matter. Details in the product, details in the corporate culture, details in the office, and details in how people are treated matter. You can still launch a minimum viable product and have the details for the feature set covered, even if it is sparse.

People are smart and pick up on what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. It’s hard to set the tone that some details matter and others don’t. A better approach is that all details matter, like the broken windows theory implies, and some details have a higher priority than others. The next time you see an issue or a detail not addressed, consider the implications and organizational approach.

What else? What are your thoughts on the broken windows theory for crime applying to details in startups?

2 thoughts on “The Broken Windows Crime Theory Applies to Startups

  1. What a neat linking of ideas. I researched the Broken Window theory recently for a client, and you are absolutely correct. Will keep this in mind!

  2. I just recently heard about the Broken Windows Theory while reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, where he mentions how the theory helped spark the steep decrease in crime in New York City subways in the late 80’s to mid 90’s by simply cracking down on petty crimes like “fare-evading” and graffiti.

    The smallest of details can have a large impact.

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