Self-organizing Culture to Resolve Co-founder Disputes

“Some 65% of startups fail because of founder conflict”

Noam Wasserman – The Founder’s Dilemmas

In my opinion conflict is not the same as a disagreeing or healthy tension.
A conflict or dispute occurs when we disagree and then start to play the man and not the ball. It usually happens when we have dogmatic polarized views and feel threatened. We then get personal and act uncivilly.
By tackling this dogma and accompanied misbehavior, we can resolve co-founder conflict, encourage disagreements and offer more diverging options.

“In YC’s case, the number one cause of
early death for startups is cofounder blowups.”

Sam Altman – YC

safety drill:
In my book, Object123 (coming later), we have a very simple hypothesis on how to resolve conflict and stop the “death by a thousand cuts” of a startup. We use the clarity of a simple three phase safety drill and appropriate corresponding response.

Self-organizing culture to resolve co-founder disputes

The team needs to agree to hold each other to account when there is misconduct: ie. failing to act on the team values. Obviously, this procedure needs to be super easy to remember and execute, especially under the duress of a potential “blowup”. We call our safety drill Object123. As with all safety procedures, practice makes perfect.

“Co-founder relationships are among the
most important in the entire company.”

Sam Altman – YC

safety net: DISPUTZ.COM (MVP)
We will also need a backup plan (prepare for the failure).The team needs to agree to use a safety net. This consists of a founder network, that review our (behavioral) dispute on the occasion the safety drill is unsuccessful. We call our safety net the Disputz Network. When all else fails, we believe sunlight is the best disinfectant.

“Conflict avoidance often leads founders
to make easy short-term decisions”

Noam Wasserman – The Founder’s Dilemmas

disputz v.A.R. – Video Assistant Referee
Finally, when needed, we use a “video room” to present our cases for a final democratic vote by the Disputz Network and a recommendation is made to ultimately resolve the dispute, one way or the other. This can also include assistance from a benevolent AI, later on.

2 thoughts on “Self-organizing Culture to Resolve Co-founder Disputes

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: