Maintaining our Start-Up DNA & Culture

Little did we know how much there was to gain from getting an updated perspective from the entire company at our recent Simplithon; especially given the informal way in which it was done.

Capturing what problems, issues, and pains arise for others gave us a much better understanding of our entire company and the problems that go beyond our current team. 

By getting a greater picture of the way things currently work, we got to expand our knowledge and ultimately our sphere of understanding of how things could and should be further simplified.

Yes, no one wants to be dragged down by inane meetings.

Yes, we all like the notion of being a dynamic, scrappy perpetual start-up.

Yes, we have problems and problems will always remain somewhere within our business.

However, the collective recognition that as the company continues to grow, these problems need to be consistently re-distributed. Once acknowledged, such problems should not be stagnating with a single person for too long.

Without positive intervention, there can be negative impacts on the development of the individual let alone the quality of the solution may be compromised.

With one of the team remarking ‘…we should do this more often … ‘, we were left in no doubt that our Simplithon was a success. Our people were listened to and empowered to get on with the task in hand … the Simplification of who we are, what we do and how we do it. A crucial exercise as our company continues to grow and mature.

There are still plenty of problems to be solved and opportunities for advancement.

More things to simplify however now, all part and parcel of our continuous improvement plan.

Slowly re-inventing ourselves from within, Eric Ries (in his book, The Startup Way) calls this the Second Founding; “… when companies know they’ll make it and settle in for the long haul, typically shedding their “start-up DNA” in the process …”.

The period in a company’s growth when they change from being just another organisation to an institution that’s here to stay.

It is the moment when a company grows up and adopts a managerial culture.

For too many companies it’s also the moment when lethargy and bureaucracy set in.

Little chance of that happening here.

Given that fast-moving and nimble companies are notoriously under-documented, the requirements of GDPR as well as our commitment to complete our ISO 27001 certification presented the perfect opportunity to over-document everything in order to codify best practices.

Giving away our legos has been key to this transition, Molly Graham suggesting that ‘If you personally want to grow as fast as your company, you have to give away your job every couple months.’

As individuals, we could then take on newer problems, and begin the cycle anew; none of us wanting to become a single point of failure where problems just stagnate.

That is ultimately how technical debts remain unpaid within a rapidly growing start-up.

Something else we’ve addressed in recent times with a simplification of our development processes and practices however that’s for another time.

We think that being able to experiment with new products while also protecting and growing our existing ones is critical to our continued success in these highly competitive times.

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