We're a team of 3 co-founders plus one full-time and one part-time person. We're about a year into the business, built a strong ecosystem of clients (B2B) & partners, have a strong brand in the local market and listened for the past year on what people need/want. We're now working on defining the business model & service offering which is led by our CREATOR on the team. It's not going as fast as I expect it to go but I'm always the light-speed mover anyway. It's extremely hard for me to accelerate things also because I don't want to push my team too hard. How do you make sure that in a creative situation (like business modeling & service design), your team moves fast, feels inspired to perform and drives the process forward?
Wow, can I nominate this for Question of the Year?
Seriously! Most of the questions on here are from people who have done nothing so far...and I don't respond to them. Finally something exciting to answer!
So I asked this question in the co-founder role about a year and a half ago as our own team was growing. I am NOT a "fast mover" though am a quick start type, and I wanted to find out how I personally could move faster and complete more things. That has lead me into starting a new company all about speed of execution and operational excellence.
Here are the chief things I discovered, and they'll probably surprise you:
1. Delegate better
You need to provide not only the objective but the scope, so your subordinates can make decisions on their own. Decisions that would either mimic the one you'd make, or even better, be superior to yours.
Most delegators give a direction but no scope. So when a roadblock occurs, those carrying it out have to come back to the task giver and keep asking questions for clarification. This slows everything to a crawl.
"Get Italian food for the team for lunch," you direct. "I want food they won't object to, at an affordable price."
That's a good delegation instruction. If the local usual Italian place is closed, they know to find another. And if they can't find Italian at all, they can look for affordable food that people have heard of (no edible bird's nest, I'm afraid.)
In a typical delegation something is missing. "Get Italian food for everyone," or "I don't know, something affordable."
We can all work on this.
2. Write your processes down
The disclaimer here is this is a main part of what we do at my firm: process documentation and process engineering.
But the facts are I am not with a hammer looking at everything as a nail, and nearly all businesses don't have their processes written down.
This leads to lack of consistency, that time- and energy-wasting question loop, and results we don't want.
SOPs are living documents to be revisited every quarter or every half-year. They provide guardrails for people to operate inside, and they result in speed.
Some people complain SOPs kill creativity. This is an incorrect assumption. You build the creativity into the process steps, and there it is. The fact of the matter is they usually think process mapping is mind mapping...and it's not. BTW I shot a quick video about that:
3. Get a Chief of Staff
I'm going to share some of my "secret sauce" now because maybe six people are reading this so who cares. The one I want to get the info is reading and that's what matters to me.
As I began investigating the question of, "How do large organizations work?" (and I'm familiar with multinationals up to say around 5000 people, but I wanted examples of hundreds of thousands or even larger) I ran into the concept of Chief of Staff. This is the person who takes the strategic directives and translates them into tactical orders.
For an army, the Chief of Staff takes the direction of "Reduce Paris" and turns it into "Move the Fourth Army up this road, and the Eighth Army up this other road. Have the kitchen and logistics units advance 24 hours ahead to set up resupply bases along the way," etc.
The German Army of 1914 came up. Yeah, that's the secret sauce. And nobody reading with the exception of one of you will do anything about it because you don't get it. That's fine. It was a huge organization with institutional memory, a fantastic training program, and a thing called the great general staff.
How was it organized? What was the relationship between the Chief of Staff and the general in charge? You can learn a ton about organization and speed from their example. I recommend the 2-part book series "Chief of Staff" (surprise, I know, right?) that vignettes leaders plus has a great opening chapter on the founding and organization of the role.
4. Delegate In Order
There is a "correct order" to what tasks you delegate, and I discovered this in my search a year and a half ago. As soon as I saw this video I shared it with my co-founder...we both enthusiastically agreed with it and knew precisely what step we were on at the moment--and what was coming up next.
It helped so much: https://www.salestactics.org/evan
I hope you found this useful and if you want to dig into more about operational excellence we should speak.