Anyone who insists they are always right is either wrong or stubborn. Neither of these attributes are acceptable in a start-up environment. If someone is correct, they should have no problem proving to you why they are correct. The biggest red flag in this situation is an expert who asks you to blindly trust their advice and throw out other information that refutes their position.
In a start-up environment, you must question everything and make the experts prove their worth. As part of this mentality, a manager must create a system that makes the experts accountable.
There are a few simple ways to make the experts accountable for their work. The most obvious solution is to track the progress of your vendor base. The more you check in, the better. Let them know you are scrutinizing their work and that you want up to the minute details on their progress. Its also important to manage the experts. This means that you aren’t just simply tracking their progress, but taking an active role in how they are doing the work, scheduling their work, and what resources they’re allocating to the work. Remember, you have the money, so they report to you; thus, let them know that you’re in charge and expect successful results. Finally, its important to ask experts to explain their work in layman’s terms. Don’t get overwhelmed with tech speak. If a vendor can’t explain a situation in a manner that makes sense to you, they don’t understand it themselves.
One ally you can use in your effort to make experts accountable is your general counsel and legal team. Involve your legal team to try to find ways to make experts legally accountable. This includes setting deadlines, setting timelines, benchmarking performance to industry standards, and setting quantifiable goals. The earlier you manage these issues and set legally binding goals, the better.