Grow Your Tech Company & Stay Cool - InformationWeek
Grow Your Tech Company & Stay Cool
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Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 1:48:21 PM
Jenga is a fantastic analogy
A friend works for a company that depends heavily on its people and has gotten much larger over the past year. New executive leadership promptly brought in former colleagues and gave them the fancy titles you mention, passing over long-term employees. There's already been some attrition, with a ton of institutional knowledge walking out the door. I get the idea that as a CxO you want to surround yourself with familiar faces, but this seems short-sighted.
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 3:42:47 PM
Re: Grow Your Tech Company & Stay Cool
This is an issue that startups have struggled with since the word 'startup' was invented . As you say, Dustin, it stretches far beyond just engineering, and touches every aspect of business - after all, startups have been losing their culture since long before what we would call modern 'processes' even existed. It sounds easy in theory - in fact, it even sounds like a flimsy thing to complain about. 'Don't lose your culture' it sounds like something out of an afterschool special. Yet, as you point out, the productivity and talent losses that come with it are very real. That's why you can't afford to ignore it.

Some of these I agree with, and others not so much. On Mr. Roca's chart for example (thanks for the reading material), the intent seems clear - each organizational system has it's own strengths and weaknesses, rather than some being better than others. Even still, his wording seems a little loaded, painting some things as negative that I would paint as more neutral.  After all, companies of all four types have been succesful. You also mention that the hiring process should be 'based on objective grading' while still allowing room for immediate termination for subjective 'bad fits'. You can't always have the best of both worlds - some things have to be one way or the other.
Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
8/11/2014 | 1:21:04 PM
Make it YOUR hierarchy
Of the many good tips here, the line "anticipate the size of the company you want to have a year from now" jumps out. There will always be a hierarchy of some sort, but create the hierarchy that will best support the company you're becoming. Not the hierarchy that worked for another company.
User Rank: Apprentice
9/25/2014 | 2:58:57 PM
Most people still want some sense of what the hierarchy is, i.e. who is the Boss ?
Having lived rapid organic growth from 2 to 75 people in a vertical market software company, I would add that most people still want some sense of what the hierarchy is. When they have an administrative problem, they need to know who their boss is and who makes the final call in the pecking order( they also need the vision, the mission clear goals and enforced accountability... just like children ). 

I agree with letting process drive this vs titles, but if the growth is substantial, the processes will evolve. Functional areas and their ownership must be clear. Employees on board from the days of five people will look for fairness and equitable treatment when there are 50. ( they shouldn't automatically receive elevation in the organization, but they need special care if they still contribute ). 

We tried to change to a more fluid organization chart, but all it did was confuse everyone. Once we went back and clearly defined reporting lines, everything was fine again. The other major factor is preserving productivity and a united march toward the mission was compensation. Everyone had their salary but could also earn a 'piece of the pie'. Their reward was not based on where they were in the organization level, but how well they met their goals. This allowed us to keep almost everyone highly motivated ( 'almost' because you cannot please everyone ). 


Mike Pochan

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