4 Things Founders Can Do to Keep Their Process Fresh

4 Things Founders Can Do to Keep Their Process Fresh 1200 844 James Knight

As a company grows, its processes most scale.

Or, they can decay.

Here are 4 things you can do to make sure your processes scale alongside your company.

🧍‍♀️ 1. Focus on People

99% of process problems start with people.

The right team following bad process will get the job done.

The wrong team with perfect process will fail anyways.

Any process audit has to start by understanding your people.

Start with your team, not your tools.

👑 2. Start at the Top

The people usually blamed for process are the ones at the bottom

But process comes from the top.

When investigating a failing process, always start with leadership and work your way down.

The bottleneck is usually near the top of the bottle.

⏳ 3. Explore the Fractal Hourglass

At every process level, there are four types of people involved:
– Stakeholders
– Executive
– Manager
– Contributors

These form an hourglass shape.

The SEMC Hourglass chart
The SEMC Hourglass

1. The top half is concerned with Strategy.
2. The bottom half is concerned with Tactics.

☝️ On the top half of the hourglass, the Executive sets the strategy and communicates it up to one or more Stakeholders.

They decide where the ship is headed.

If the destination is the wrong one upon arrival, they’re the ones at fault.

If the Strategy has failed, the Executive has failed.

👇 On the bottom half, the Manager receives the strategy from the Executive and translates it into tactics for the Contributors to implement.

They decide what direction the ship should point to reach its destination.

If the ship doesn’t arrive at the correct destination, they’re the ones at fault.

If the Tactics have failed, the Manager has failed.

This pattern starts at the top and repeats itself at each process layer.

A Fractal Hourglass.

🌹 4. Make Lifecycle Charts

When investigating process, we often start with our org chart.

But to establish clear processes, we need to understand our process lifecycle.

Consider the following questions as we move down the Hourglass:
– Where does a need originate?
– Who prioritizes needs?
– Who is responsible for describing the need to the team?
– Who is responsible for conceptualizing an answer to the need?
– Who is responsible for executing that concept?

And then, on the way back up the Hourglass:
– Who is responsible for making sure the deliverable matches the concept?
– Who is responsible for making sure that concept responds to the described need?
– Who is responsible for making sure the described need actually matches the original?

Visualize the answers in Lifecycle Charts.

Chart them out. Then assign someone to each seat and establish accountability.

☝️ As companies grow, processes age. As they age, they can mature.

Or they can decay.

To keep your processes fresh, make a habit of reviewing them.

And then:

🧍‍♀️ 1. Focus on People
👑 2. Start at the Top
⏳ 3. Explore the Fractal Hourglass
🌹 4. Build Lifecycle Charts

Early-stage founder?

Hockey Stick Growth is a Myth—What Companies Can Do to Create True Exponential Growth

Hockey Stick Growth is a Myth—What Companies Can Do to Create True Exponential Growth 1024 690 James Knight

Hockey Stick Growth is a myth.

There’s no magical point at which a startup takes off. True growth is built brick-by-brick.

Let’s see what real exponential growth is made of.

The “Holy Hockey Stick”

In the Hockey Stick Growth model, startups see little traction in their early days before hitting a mystical “inflection point” and trending upwards into exponential growth.

That mystical point is defined as the point when you achieve Product-Market Fit (PMF).

But that’s not how growth works.

Product-Market Fit is a Process

In the real world, PMF isn’t a point in time. It’s a process.

A process that most founders underestimate.

Even amongst *funded* startups, the #1 reason for failure is “No Market Need [1]”. These are companies that had 12–18 months to find PMF.

And they never found it.

A founder’s overconfidence in their ability to reach PMF will doom them.

It leads to over-investment (both in time and money) in their initial version of the product.

It creates an obsession with each successive release, as the founder is sure *this one* will be the one to achieve PMF.

So what can you do about it?

The True Hockey Stick

Since Product-Market Fit isn’t binary, what does the true Hockey Stick look like?

In the hockey-stick model, the period after the inflection point is characterized by “surging” growth.

That’s a fancy way to say growth is “accelerating”.

So how do we increase our growth rate over time?

The real Hockey Stick isn’t defined by an inflection point but rather by an inflection process.

With each change we make to our product or its messaging, we increase our growth rate just a little. These improvements stack on top of each other one by one, building the famous hockey stick shape.

Creating real exponential growth isn’t about finding the mythical Product-Market fit. It’s not about reaching some magical inflection point.

Real exponential growth is achieved by stacking incremental improvements over time.

The real Hockey Stick is built brick-by-brick.

[1. CBInsights:]

Early-stage founder?