Why your startups need Systems Thinking

I had a great time yesterday taking a session on ‘How to take your Startups to next level with Systems Design & Thinking’ at the byDesign webinar hosted by @TiEDelhi and @qglue_design . Here is a small post on why I believe #SystemsThinking is essential for startups. Below mentioned are the context and and the few key takeaways.

This was first published as a Twitter Thread .

As we are moving to a more interconnected world, there is a need for us to think of our startups as a continuously evolving system over time.

With access to funding, increase in scope and offerings and larger access to markets; one goes from Simple System to a Complicated to Chaotic to Complex Adaptive Systems.

Founder-Early consumers → Simple systems. With every funding round, your startup evolves.

What differentiates the human species from animals is the ability to adapt by virtue of evolving our understanding of the systems around us. A trait that all good startups have. The adaption happens at mindset level, our physical comfort and our ability to push the limits.

As we move to a more gadget centric connected world today; we entrepreneurs question the very foundation of these new systems and solutions we are building, for its ability to solve a problem and a potential to create long lasting impact in the system.

Here are the 10 key takeaways from the session.

  1. ‘Systems Thinking gives a better understanding of Stakeholders.’
    Able to understand the power vs interest dynamics that exist amongst stakeholders. Who do you want to keep satisfied, whom you can just monitor, whom you need to manage closely and whom to keep informed.

2. Systems Thinking enables ‘Empathy as a way of life’
Three aspects of empathy: Reciprocity, Trust & Cooperation. Empathy is reciprocal in nature. One expects something in return. It is human nature. Reciprocity builds trust over time. Higher cooperation in stakeholders.

3. Systems Thinking ‘Helps with better product roadmap planning’.
In our quest to launch features we often end up shipping half baked products when the market isn’t ready. How does a MVP play out over time? Understanding systems allows to plan your product roadmap better.

4. Systems thinking helps you “Develops short term & long term vision”.
By the very nature of a system being evolutionary in nature, one is forced to think of your offerings from both the short term (immediate impact) versus long term (when the initial novelty has died out).

5. Systems Thinking ensures you ‘Get a deeper understanding of regulatory constraints’
With the growing intervention of regulatory bodies irrespective of the domain you are in, it is important to keep this important stakeholder as a part of your daily dealings.

6. Systems Thinking enables a “Better Product Market fit” .
This comes naturally. By virtue of understanding the market and its interdependencies better, one is able to better define product market fit.

7. Systems Thinkings gets you to “Have an Evolving Go-to-Market Strategy”.
With changing nature of the market and its constraints, new variables, competitors work, there is a high chance that you are forced to rethink your GTM. Systems Thinking enables you to do that.

8. Systems Thinking ensure you have a better ‘Understanding of brand-positioning and brand-building’.
With speed of execution being a startup’s arsenal, there are high chances that very soon you lose market monopoly. Ensuring that your brand is able to face this is critical.

9. Systems Thinking helps in ‘Taking Empathy beyond the user to the system and in particular empathising with Business.’
Often empathy stops at the user. We need to go to empathising with Businesses as well.

10. Systems Thinking provides an ‘Aspiration for playing a larger role in the system and defining your Growth Metrics.’
Bundled with good roadmaps and better product positioning; defining growth metrics to play a crucial role in the long run is a dream for most startups!

I would love to hear more from you on how Systems Thinking is helping you.

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AVP Design @Paytm, Chairman @HappyHorizons. Write on Design. Education. Healthcare. Financial Inclusion. Wipro Seeding & TFIx Fellow. IITG & Indiana Univ alum.