How to Build a Cofounder Operating System

And how to reduce cofounder conflicts

Standard advice in Silicon Valley is to find a cofounder who is strong in areas you're weak.

This is good advice but it means that, even in a great cofounder dynamic, you're naturally going to see things differently... sometimes important things.

So how do you minimize the chances of ending up as part of the 65% of startups that fail due to cofounder conflict?

My cofounder and I created what we call our cofounder operating system. It's a previously agreed-upon set of rules that guide our decisions when we disagree.

Think About It Like a Framework for How to Disagree and Commit

Here's the process that's saved us countless hours.

Craft Your First Principles

Last week I shared how first principles can help generate new ideas. They're also helpful as a foundation for a decision making framework since you'll be able to refer back to them later and hold each other accountable to what you've agreed on.

While it's up to you to figure out exactly what principles work best for your team, here are a few things you need to cover:

  • What do you do when you simply can't reach consensus on an issue?

  • What can you put in place to ensure disagreements remain solution-oriented, and what happens if they don't?

  • When and to what extent do you involve non-founders in disagreements, if at all?

  • What happens after a disagreement is over?

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