Agile VC: 

My idle thoughts on tech startups

Blocking & Tackling

Lee Hower
February 16, 2012 · 1  min.

Reading Time: 1 minute

They say the small stuff you do to accomplish a big goal is often the most important, even if a lot of isn’t glamorous or produces very small incremental benefit.  The football analogy is blocking by the offensive line and tackling by the defense, as opposed to the more sensational touchdown pass or or diving interception or 90-yd punt return.

I generally think this is true.  A lot of successfully achieved goals are mainly the product of working hard on the “fundamentals” and nailing the small stuff.  Occasionally though there are objectives which can’t be achieved by laying a single brick at a time, over and over.  There’s some critical mass which much be achieved or other large scale gating factor that makes or breaks the outcome.

When you see these kinds of goals that can’t be accomplished by small incremental effort, it sometimes makes you question the importance of blocking & tackling.  If a Big Bang type event (e.g. spontaneous, unpredictable, and largely out of one’s control) is the only way to accomplish those goals, why bother?

But even for these, I think the small stuff still really matters.  The blocking and tackling may not be a sufficient condition, but it’s probably a necessary one.  Even if outside forces or luck or whatever is the driver behind that step function goal, you still have to put yourself in the position for it to happen.  So without doing the blocking and tackling and small incremental stuff, you’d probably never get there.

Lee Hower
Lee is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has spent his entire career as an entrepreneur and investor in early-stage software and internet startups.