Managing Time Horizons

I recently came across the clearest definition of a bubble in an asset class:

“When investors have different goals and time horizons—and they do in every asset class— prices that look ridiculous to one person can make sense to another…

Bubbles form when the momentum of short-term returns attract enough money that the makeup of investors shifts from mostly long term to mostly short term. That process feeds on itself. As traders push up short-term returns, they attract even more traders. Before long, the dominant market price-setters with the most authority are those with shorter time horizons.

Bubbles aren’t so much about valuations rising. That’s just a symptom of something else: time horizons shrinking as more short-term traders enter the playing field.”

The Psychology of Money (by Morgan Housel)

What was particularly impressive about this framework was that it can be applied to any forms of investment — including people. When you have a “different” time horizon when working with someone, your behaviors will change. Those with a short-term views will become more transactional (as there’s no lasting relationship or long-term time horizon to get the “returns”) and “ruthless” vs long-term views will become more relationship driven as one may see the “potential” of someone and with that have more patience to invest/coach the person to become better. Of course, there are other factors to consider such as talent/aptitude, integrity, personal values just as one would look at such in a company when value investing over a long-term time horizon.

As investors with deep pockets and lack of need for immediate liquidity can invest in asset classes that require long-term time commitments (e.g. becoming an LP in a seed fund), people and organizations who have strong teams with high bench strength can harness the time horizon to invest in people over a longer period of time. While high growth startups may not have this luxury, it is deeply rewarding to see people step up and grow phenomenally over a long period of time during their tenure.

Organizations have their natural and default time horizons for their projects and people, so being able to understand your own organization’s time horizons and navigating or altering them as the need and situations change can become a powerful tool for the management team.

Scaling Leadership through Two Management Frameworks

As an organization reaches certain scale, it is inevitable, at least due to the current limitation set by human interaction mechanisms (e.g. verbal communication, synchronous meetings, groups, hierarchies, physically independent) that there is a certain level of structure that needs to be put in place to manage the organization.

There is a few frameworks that can be useful when scaling the leadership. It’s local applications of the general management frameworks, so let’s explore how they can be relevant to scaling leadership.

1. Convergence <> Divergence framework

This framework demonstrates how to navigate within the horizontal layer (x-axis) of management.

As your organization scales, one thing you constantly run into is the overall increase in diversity within the organization. The proportion of diversity may increase or decrease, but the absolute number of diverse entity (in this case, employees) will simply increase as your headcount grows.

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Order and Chaos in a Company Culture

The society today upholds diversity as an absolute virtue. Diversity across educational backgrounds, race, ethnic group, gender, age is something we all pursue vigorously. It seems almost trivial to choose diversity over conformity or homogeneity in any discussion.

However, to put things into perspective, nature having evolved through millions, if not billions of years, may provide a slightly different view to this pro-diversity world. The balance and the timing of convergence and divergence play important roles in reaching the global optimum in any search space. The selection pressure from the environment acting as a converging force, offset by mutation from perturbation balancing as a diverging force are what make organisms so durable and adaptable to the ever-changing world we’re living in.

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Our 7 Core Values at SendBird

Company values are what the people within the organization believe in. Decisions, actions, hires/fires, promotions/demotions are based on the company values and they are the fundamental building blocks for a strong, great company culture.

Of course, there are many good values in the world, but company values cannot list them all. Rather, the company’s core values should embody a set of unique beliefs, and should be simple enough to be remembered and used during daily conversations and work.

So, without further ado, here are our seven core values at SendBird:

1. Endless tenacity for customers

“Only the paranoid survive” – Andy Grove, Intel

Customers existed before a company did. Facing a problem, few people dared to find a solution, and customer value was created. The organized and deliberate effort of finding a solution later evolved to become a company that we know today. We exist to satisfy the customers, then to leap beyond the status quo and create innovative solutions to problems that the customers are not even aware of yet. The journey will be challenging and frustrating, but endless tenacity is the only path to the true customer happiness.

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