Conflict Systems in Startups

  1. Decision Making Power is Ill-defined
  2. Relationships and Choosing Partner Complexities
  3. Role Definition and Lack of Clarity
  4. Reward Definition - Equity Splits and Cash Compensation
  5. Cultural Gaps and Mismatching
  6. Conflict Styles Mismatch as a Natural Phenomenon   
  7. Investor Relations and Control Dynamics
  8. Who Works Hardest Questions
  9. Hiring Decisions
  10. Founder Motivations - Wealth vs. Control
  11. Pressure and Variable Abilities to Work Effectively Under Pressure

Wasserman, Noam. The Founder’s Dilemmas. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2012.
Batson Baril, Mark. Interviews 2012-13

Common Elements that Help System Issues Escalate Into Disputes:

Conflict Avoidance
Relationship management and avoiding conflict will often trump the need to deal with a growing conflict. “Cofounders with prior social relationships are often the least likely to deal with the elephants in the room”(Wasserman). Partners with prior business relations and strangers working together are more likely to address rising conflicts than family/friends.

Lack of Awareness of Systemic Issue
Complexities in human interactions often add to the confusion when trying to identify exactly what the underlying issues are that are causing problems. By not properly identifying the underlying causes, it becomes very difficult to solve the problem in the long term. Short-term fixes may mask the issue and cover the symptoms for a while but in most cases the issue will return with vigor.