The First 100 Days

The First 100 Days

As Biden gets sworn in today, much of the conversation will now shift to his agenda for the "First 100 Days". The chyron will be on every cable news network and will be the subject of every political podcast. I've always been  somewhat cynical of this conversation.  I felt it to be too arbitrary and symptomatic of short attention span of the media. While it may be to some extent, this time around I understand the importance - due to both the current political situation and my own professional situation.

Politically, this is probably one of the most important "First 100 Days" for any presidency. With Covid raging and the company dangerously divided it presents both an opportunity and a pitfall. If Biden is able to quickly distribute the vaccine and stem the spread, it will go a long way towards cooling the political environment in the country. Most people are anchored to the expectations of a Covid-free summer and to miss that deadline would be disastrous for his administration and the rest of its agenda. In many ways, the next 100-200 days will determine the rest of his Presidency - for better or worse.

Professionally, I cofounded a company at the beginning of this year so I have a unique appreciation this time around for the importance of early execution. Our timelines for execution are very similar to the Biden administration. We have a small amount of starter capital and three to six months to execute on what we are setting out to do. If we don't execute, we fail. The magnitude and impact of what we are doing is no comparison to that what the Biden team is faced with, but the importance of both teams executing properly over the next 100 days is the same. Both teams can choose to do many things, and both teams will have others telling them what they should do, even if indirectly. In reality, in order to execute both teams really just need to deliver one thing. The rest will be much easier.

In addition to execution, and less talked about, the first 100 days is an important time to set the culture and tone of your organization. For the Biden administration this is more important than ever. He will be taking over an executive branch that has been living in a very toxic culture for the last 4 years. There are surely bad habits that have been acquired as well as organizational structures (or lack there of) set up to enforce some the values and culture of the previous administration. Not addressing it immediately will undermine his ability to execute in the first 100 days and beyond.

For me, I am trying to be very deliberate about some of the "good hygiene" and processes, values, and other items that many companies end up trying to install later as they begin to scale. I'm certainly not trying to overengineer the organization this early. In fact, in many ways it feels almost as if I'm underengineering certain aspects of how we do things but focusing on being deliberate and also communicative on others. It's never too early to address culture, values, and how you want to work as a team and it's almost always too late.

I wish the Biden team the best of luck over the next 100 days and beyond. Great execution has never been more necessary and the stakes have never been higher.