Two weeks ago, my class and I embarked on a discussion around co-founders. Do we need co-founders? If so how many? What should we look for in them? Where do we find them? Each of these can be entire blog posts. To me one of the interesting questions that came up was “How do we overcome our own biases when selecting a co-founder?” Students in two different classes posed a version of this question.
Reflecting upon the mistakes I’ve made and the ones I’ve avoided or overcome I see three key steps to minimizing biases whether in finding co-founders or other decisions we make.
- self awareness Become and stay aware of the types of biases you are prone to, so you can recognize them and account for them even if you don’t overcome them. Here’s a useful summary of 20 common cognitive biases we encounter, based on a that BusinessInsider infographic [paywall].
- accountability partners Ensure you have good people around—coaches, mentors, team mates or partners. They can question or challenge you and point out issues – be they assumptions, biases or other gaps in your thinking. This has been the biggest help to me (thanks Bikash & Rajagopal!)
- test & validate Despite #1 and #2, you will still make errors or have issues. These are best dealt with by explicit communication. Articulate your assumptions, and ask questions of prospective partners and yourself. Treat this as you’d any experiment—build hypothesis, test and validate.
It is best to work on self awareness and accountability partners first, so that you don’t want to waste your time or the others and needlessly burn bridges.