Previously, we’ve written about how founders have to be great leaders and how we identify great founders through our talent pyramid approach. Primarily, we write about founders because a large part of what we do involves founder coaching as a key component of startup development.
This blog is based on an approach we use as both a tool for identifying good founders and a framework we apply in order to elevate good emerging market founders to great global founders. We call this “inside the movie, outside the movie.”
There are a few dimensions to this framework so let’s tackle them one by one.
Think about movies for a second. The inside of a movie is the plotline and the main characters’ evolving arc, completely unattached from the movie watcher. The inside of the movie is the main character’s reality. Now, consider this in a startups context – the inside of a founder’s movie is the founder’s reality.
So what does it mean to be inside or outside the movie?
First, the micros and the macros – the small picture and the big picture. Every startup has its own unique microeconomic and technology challenges. This exists inside the movie. Outside the movie, there is the bigger picture of macroeconomy and technology trends within the domain and beyond the domain.
Second is more a personal state of being. Every founder is riddled with emotional content – these are thoughts, feelings, emotions etc. Inside the movie this emotional content cannot be avoided and a founder must acknowledge this content. Inside the movie, the founder is vulnerable and has the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports their beliefs or values. This allows for confirmation biases and clouded judgement. Outside the movie though, rationality and objective thinking dominates the founders’ thought processes.
Take the analogy of superhero movies and the fourth wall, a theatrical performance convention in which an invisible, imagined wall separates actors from the audience. There is an invisible barrier between the fictional world and the real world. By “breaking the fourth wall” the character becomes aware of this real world while the audience can see through this “wall.” Now, characters can interact with their audience and even alter their performance according to the audience.
We want founders to break their fourth walls. Put simply, acknowledging and operating between these two states, i.e inside the movie and outside the movie, allows founders to have an extremely sharpened perspective of their goals, their vision, and the strategic or design changes that need to be made.
How can founders transform themselves into inside/outside thinkers?
Life coaches help individuals make progress in their lives in order to attain greater fulfillment but founder development requires deeper intellectual engagement. Life coaches help their clients in improving their relationships, careers, and day-to-day lives while founder development helps founders achieve greater performance and scale fast. Founder development then trickles down into organisational building.
This is where accelerators, mentors, and startup coaches come in. Startup founders need experts who have their pulse on both the micro-prints of startup fundamentals as well as macro-prints of these fundamentals such as technology strategy, global economy, organizational behavior etc. These experts allow founders to develop the ability of operating between the inside/outside realms. We call this process founder development coaching and it requires repeatable engagement with founders to be effective.
We’ve experienced that this process helps startup founders, especially early-stage, to unlock clarity on their goals when they are scaling fast and embarking on the next stages of growth. It aims to transform startups into effective companies in a flywheel manner which then results in 100X performance.
So if you’re a good founder, you should really find a good founder development coach.
At ScaleX, we work with great founders who may have raised six-figure funding but in many cases, were not able to utilise these finances and scale effectively. Our goal as an accelerator is enabling them with tools and frameworks such as the one described in this blog. In reference to our blog on the Talent Pyramid, this is how we transform the 4% of developing market founders to the top 1% and then further enable the paradigm shift where we elevate them to the top 1% of developed economies and ecosystems.