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How To Setup A Learning Routine At Work – Xeneta – Medium

How To Setup A Learning Routine At Work – Xeneta – Medium | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
I’m convinced that your ability to continuously learn new things at your work place is more important for your day-to-day performance and career than everything you learned at university. If you’re a…
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Learning is the do all/be all in startups.  Winners think of work as learning first.
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What’s the Second Job of a Startup CEO?

What’s the Second Job of a Startup CEO? | Startup Practices | Scoop.it

What’s the Second Job of a Startup CEO?
By Ali Rowghani
November 29, 2016

Successful startups go through three broad phases as they scale, and a startup CEO’s job changes dramatically in each phase. A CEO’s first job is to build a product users love; the second job is to build a company to maximize the opportunity that the product has surfaced; and the third is to harvest the profits of the core business to invest in transformative new product ideas. This blog post describes how to become a great Phase 2 CEO by focusing on the highest leverage tasks that only the CEO can accomplish. As YC’s Continuity team, we’ve seen many Phase 1 CEOs transition successfully into Phase 2, and some who have not. The future of your startup depends on which kind you are.

Your First Creation is a Product, Your Second Creation is a Company

A CEO’s first job is to build a great product and find a small group of people who love it and use it enthusiastically.1 A Phase 1 startup CEO is the Doer-in-Chief. You must be deeply involved in both building the product (observing/interacting with users, writing code, designing product specs) and acquiring users/customers. Delegation should not be a word in your vocabulary. If you succeed, it’s because your deep involvement and unique vision give the company a perspective and drive that few others have. The other imperative for a Phase 1 CEO is to conserve money in order to extend the time to iterate and improve the product.

Most startups fail because they are not able to create a product that users love enough to abandon existing alternatives. Success in this first phase means discovering more demand for your product than your small team can handle. When this happens, you have to shift your focus as CEO to building a company that can capture and maximize the demand that your product has surfaced. Company-building becomes the CEO’s primary job in a Phase 2 startup. The company you build is your second creation and will be your lasting legacy as a founder.

As a Phase 2 CEO, you need to transition from “Doer-in-Chief” to “Company-Builder-in-Chief.” This is how you scale as a CEO, and CEO scaling is the first step in company-building. For most founders, this is very difficult. When you’ve been a successful Doer-in-Chief, it’s hard to stop. It’s hard to stop coding, designing product specs, and interacting with customers on a daily basis. It’s hard to stop answering support tickets, doing all the product demos, and debugging the latest build. It’s even hard to delegate the random and sometimes menial tasks that you’ve accumulated over the years because they were “no one’s job.” But you have to stop doing all of these things so that you can safeguard your time for high leverage tasks that only CEOs can do.

This transition can cause confusion and even friction with your team, who can suddenly wonder what you are doing if you’re no longer committing code or why you’re suddenly delegating a bunch of menial tasks that you’d been doing for years. But once your startup reaches 20-30 people, you’ll have to spend more time leading (i.e., directing the activities of others). And since time is finite, the only way to lead more is do less. Without delegating, you simply won’t have time to focus on company-building and you’ll end up slowing everyone else down.

It may seem impossible at first, but you can eventually delegate day-to-day responsibility for everything you did in Phase 1, even Product. You obviously can’t drop everything overnight, but your job is to replace yourself by hiring people better than you into leadership positions. As David Rusenko, the co-founder and CEO of Weebly has said, “Often, the first time I find out about a product feature is reading about it on our blog. It shocks most founders to hear this, but I know I’ve done my job well because I’ve yet to see a feature that was built poorly. You should aspire to build a team that’s so good that you don’t have to be involved in the product details.”

In practice, Phase 2 usually begins when a startup has around 20-25 employees and ends when it reaches 400-500 employees. At the end of Phase 2, you’ll have a leadership team that you’ve “road tested” to the point that you can confidently delegate everything you did in Phase 1. Your direct reports should be experienced leaders who can perform at a high level with minimal involvement from you, provided that you have set direction well. You can then shift the burden of company building to your leadership team so that you can start working on Phase 3: taking profits from the core business and investing them in new, transformative products. As an example, Facebook built its senior management team in Phase 2 while running the business at roughly breakeven. In Phase 3, it began to generate huge profits in its core business thanks to more lucrative in-stream ads, so it could allocate significant resources towards Messenger as a separate product and buy Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus.

Three Tasks That CEOs Can’t Delegate

Stated simply, your job as a Phase 2 startup CEO is to delegate everything you did in Phase 1 in order to create time to focus on three critical operational tasks that only the CEO can do 2:

1. Hiring a Leadership Team and Making Sure They Work Well Together

Only the CEO can hire the company’s senior leadership team and make sure that they work well together. You can get help and feedback from others as you hire, but when you bring leaders like a VP of Engineering, VP of Sales, and CFO on board, the ultimate hiring decisions must be yours. You can’t hire by compromise, looking for someone who everyone around you likes. The choice has to be yours because the consequences are yours as well.

Recruiting senior executives takes an extraordinary amount of time. If you are doing it for the first time, meet lots of people so that you can develop good judgment about the skills, experiences, and personality traits that you need. Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO of Stripe, made it a point to meet with the “best-in-the-world” in each field so he could get a sense of what a great candidate looks like. Because executive hiring takes so much time, you should stage these hires rather than trying to hire everyone at once. Our recommendation is to hire a good executive search firm to help you run your first couple of searches. It will cost you an arm and a leg, but if it helps you hire the right person, it’s worth every penny.

YC teaches founders to manage their startups using weekly milestones to ensure rapid iteration and progress. That’s great for a small company trying to find product-market fit, but it’s not the way to manage senior executives. You manage senior people to longer term outputs rather than week-to-week tasks. To do this well, you first have to set the right quarterly and annual milestones for the company and for each executive. It’s also your job to acclimate new executives to the culture of the company. As you build your senior team, expect to spend extra time with new executives individually and as a team on culture and teamwork. You should insist that new executives take the time to build relationships across the organization rather than pressuring them to come in and start changing things immediately.

Learning how to evaluate the performance of senior executives is also a challenge, partly because your face-to-face interactions do not provide much of the information you need. You have to evaluate how well they are building their organizations, how productive and happy their employees are, and how well they are working with other teams and executives. You should expect that at least 25% of your leadership hires don’t work out. For most startup CEOs, it’s very difficult to fire their first executive, and most CEOs take too long to do it. But it’s better to act quickly and leave a void in the organization than to leave an ineffective senior executive in place for too long. The longer you leave an under-performing executive in place, the more credibility you lose with everyone else on your team.

Your job is done when your entire leadership team has been hired, you’ve coached them to work well together, and they can operate at a high level with minimal involvement from you. Don’t be surprised if 50% of your time goes to hiring and managing your senior team; it’s time well spent.

2. Creating Purpose and Alignment

The second task that CEOs cannot delegate is creating purpose and alignment at the company. When your startup has less than 10 people who all sit together, you don’t need to work very hard to keep people aligned. Everyone can easily hear what’s going on, understand how their work fits into the broader goals, and have a say in every decision. Communication is simple and creating alignment is easy.

But when you start hiring more people, soon in different offices and from broader backgrounds and functions (e.g., sales, finance, etc.), creating alignment becomes a lot harder. Your team no longer sits within earshot. You aren’t able to interview or even meet everyone who joins the company. And you may not even able to attend employee onboarding sessions. As an example, there was an 18-month period at Twitter where the company was hiring 50 people per month in offices all around the world. There was no way the CEO or any one executive could meet everyone who was joining the company.

As a Phase 1 CEO, you are the lead rower on the boat. But in a Phase 2 startup, your job is no longer to row. Instead, it’s to define the purpose of the voyage, set the direction of the boat, and measure the pace and performance of a much larger number of rowers. In business speak, the CEO’s job is to define the Mission (purpose), Strategy (direction), and Metrics (pace and performance). These three elements provide the essential context that a growing company needs to be able to perform.

One of the best examples of “Mission-to-Metrics” alignment comes from a friend who visited the manufacturing floor at SpaceX. Seeing a SpaceX employee assembling a large part, he stopped to ask him, “What is your job at SpaceX?” He answered, “The mission of SpaceX is to colonize Mars. In order to colonize Mars, we need to build reusable rockets because it will otherwise be unaffordable for humans to travel to Mars and back. My job is to help design the steering system that enables our rockets to land back on earth. You’ll know if I’ve succeeded if our rockets land on our platform in the Atlantic after launch.” The employee could have simply said he was building a steering system for landing rockets. Instead, he recited the company’s entire “Mission-to-Metrics” framework. That is alignment.

Can you define the Mission, Strategy, and Metrics for your startup in a way that’s clear, simple, and inspiring? Most Phase 2 CEOs can’t readily do this. And, when they sit down to define it, they find it harder than they thought. The diagram below captures the task at hand:



Your mission should feel ambitious and permanent. It should find its roots in the reasons you started your company and should not be something that you change very often. Conversely, you should revisit your product strategy and go-to-market strategy at least twice per year to make sure they remain relevant and right. There is an enormous amount of literature about developing business and product strategy. Whatever approach you choose, a simple practice always seems to help: write it down. In our experience, the CEOs who are most effective in developing and communicating strategy take the time to write their strategy out, in long form. You don’t have to go as far as Jeff Bezos and his team at Amazon do, requiring 6 page memos for every strategic meeting. But writing your “Mission-to-Metrics” framework in long form will help you be more thorough and catch flaws in your thinking.

Effective metric-setting is also a critical part of a CEO’s job. A common mistake is to equate key internal metrics with the business’ most important top line results, like revenue or user growth. This is the wrong approach because top line results like “increase user growth” usually aren’t directly actionable. Instead, you’ve got to dig deeper to understand what drives top line results and set these drivers as the key internal metrics. Great companies work tirelessly to understand what drives their growth. Facebook famously discovered that connecting a new user to 10 friends within 14 days correlated with retained usage, so they set “number of new users with 10 friend connections” as the key product metric. You’ve got to be tenacious about learning what drives your top line business results and set those drivers are your internal metrics. If you don’t know what drives revenue, customer acquisition, or user growth, you aren’t likely to be successful anyway.

Once you’ve written “Mission-to-Metrics” for your startup, and gotten feedback from your leadership and other key employees, you have to start communicating it to everyone regularly. You have to reiterate the Mission-to-Metrics much more than what feels reasonable, which may run counter to your instinct to be efficient. Your employees will not internalize the message unless you communicate it constantly. The real test is not simply whether employees can repeat it, but whether they can make good decisions in your absence based on the context you have provided.

3. Nurturing Company Culture

There are few concepts in company building that are as slippery as culture. Fundamentally, culture is defined by the way people treat one another in a company — both the way management treats employees and the way people treat one another. Culture begins to form on the day the second person joins your startup. How founders and early employees act toward one another in a startup’s earliest days sets a cultural tone that can last for many years.

But unlike the other tasks listed above, creating a good culture is not uniquely the CEO’s job. It is everyone’s responsibility. So unlike Mission-to-Metrics, a CEO’s job is not to go to a quiet room and write up a set of cultural tenets for everyone to follow. This single-author approach usually fails because the resulting words are often disconnected from the reality of how the employees as a whole experience the company. Rather than assuming the burden of sole authorship, CEOs should encourage co-founders and early employees to work together to codify a set of values and behavioral norms that feel authentic and aspirational to everyone. For culture to be self-enforcing, the values must resonate with the ways the company has acted in the past. That’s how they feel authentic rather than contrived. If you really want the company to embody a value that does not reflect past behavior, then set an example and get everyone in leadership to act in that way before you consider calling it a company value.

Pixar provides a helpful example. Like most movie studios, Pixar says that one of its key values is that “story comes first.” And like most companies, it says that its employees are its most important asset. Pixar’s employees embrace these values because they authentically represent the way the company has behaved. The most powerful example dates back to the making of Toy Story 2 in 1999. With only seven months to go before its scheduled release date, Pixar’s creative leadership felt that Toy Story 2 was not working creatively. Disney, Pixar’s distribution partner, knew that it took 3-4 years to make an animated film. They argued that it was too late to start over and that Pixar should release the film as is. But Pixar refused, deciding instead to tear up the story and re-write it from scratch. The studio pushed itself to the brink of collapse to complete the new version of Toy Story 2 on time, and the film was a huge commercial and critical success. And, when it was completed, the executive team took the extraordinary step of closing the studio for two entire months to let everyone recuperate.

Ed Catmull calls it the most intense and important period in the studio’s history: “Toy Story 2 defined us. It said that we couldn’t be a studio that produced both great work and average work. Everything we made had to be great. We proved to ourselves that we would never release a film when we were not proud of the story. And we also realized that we had to take care of our people if we were going to ask such sacrifices from them.” Nothing expresses the core cultural tenets of Pixar better: Do not compromise creatively and take care of people.

What defines you as a company? You should look to the past to find the answer, often to your earliest days when success was far from certain. Perhaps it’s a commitment to quality, like “story comes first.” Perhaps it’s a mode of working, like “go fast and break things.” Once these values have been expressed, the CEO must make sure that the behavior of every new leader at the company reflects those values. But here too, adherence is not solely the CEO’s job. Everyone at the company also has a role to play in holding their leaders, peers, and themselves accountable to the same norms.

A Simple Measure of Success

During a management meeting at Pixar, I once heard Steve Jobs say, “When I’m at my best, 50% of my time is unscheduled. That’s the time I use to think, drop in on the people I want to speak with, and let my curiosity roam. It’s my time to be creative. Without this free time, I would never be able to stay ahead of the company. To lead a company, you’ve always got to be two steps ahead. There’s no way to lead a company from behind.” Reaching the point of having a lot of unscheduled think time is perhaps the clearest sign of success for a Phase 2 CEO. It suggests that you have hired a leadership team, delegated the day-to-day activities to them, and codified Mission, Strategy, and Metrics well enough for them to operate effectively without your daily involvement. Your reward is the bounty of time to think and plan the future of your startup.

NOTES:

1 No one has written more eloquently about this topic than YC co-founder Paul Graham in essays like How To Start A Startup and Do Things That Don’t Scale.

2 The focus of this essay is on a CEO’s operational responsibilities. There are certain non-operational responsibilities such as building/managing a Board, raising money, interacting with the press, etc., that are also part of a CEO’s job, especially when a startup is small. Generally speaking, the less time a Phase 2 CEO spends on these types of non-operational tasks, the better, because they come at the cost of running the company.

Thanks to Daniel Yanisse, Patrick Collison, David Rusenko, Ben Holzman, Michael Seibel, Ed Catmull, Sam Altman, Leore Avidar, Tyler Bosmeny, and the YC Continuity team for reading drafts of this essay.

Terry Yelmene's insight:
This is one of, if not the most important articles a leader of a startup MUST read, understand and follow.  It's a very good, informative  article, but IMHO, the characterization of three 'broad' phases gets the message somewhat wrong, resulting in a misleading false equivalence. 

The first 'product' phase as it's presented here; is in actuality the solution-fit to evaluated/understood problem activities that should be merely table stakes.  And although the scaling that's described as phase three does represent a passed threshold of new objectives pressures requiring added skills and sensibilities, these are largely rational follow on of what is established with the market-leveraging business development that here seem smallishly framed as "Phase Two."

IMO, the main job of a startup leader is simply 'building-a-business' as a functional activity (set) that produces/serves customers.  For the leader, the business is/should be; THE product. Further; defining purpose, devising/fostering culture and constructing/maintaining the team cohesiveness are the core foundations that spread past phases as they are depicted here.  Sure a solution to a problem in the form of a marketable product or service is a perquisite that serves to tie the beginnings of 'building -a-business' together, but the service or product is more or less, just that to the role of the startup leader.

So for me, Phase two as it's described here, is the 80%+ of the Pareto. The other phases are important, but subsequent to, the author's phase two.
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Increasing Innovation Velocity in Small & Medium Businesses

Increasing Innovation Velocity in Small & Medium Businesses | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
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This post points to an excellent paper that articulates rational for innovation as an active, foundational process for all businesses especially acute in startups.
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The Art of the Awkward 1:1 – Mark Rabkin

The Art of the Awkward 1:1 – Mark Rabkin | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
You probably do a lot of one-on-one meetings at work: with your manager, teammates, folks from other teams. Unfortunately, most people totally waste their 1:1 time. The problem: the 1:1s aren’t…
Terry Yelmene's insight:
Awkward is good!  The key to making awkward... work... is shining light on the discrepancies between actual performance to intended aspirations in both work and career.  Yes awkward is good.  

What's bad... is the act of meeting at all... for any straight forward status assessment.  These communication are best managed asynchronously using the same tool mechanisms/metaphors of the new slack-bots for standup meetings.  At a minimum these tools should cut status meeting down by half (time consumed and/or number of meetings scheduled) and at best can eliminate them altogether.  Yet, when unexpected status exceptions or significant issues occur, more issue specific status 'red flag' meeting can still be called.
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10 Success lessons from Peter Drucker – “Father of Modern Management” for entrepreneurs - KnowStartup

10 Success lessons from Peter Drucker – “Father of Modern Management” for entrepreneurs - KnowStartup | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
Peter Drucker, “the father of modern management,” turned management theory into a serious discipline.
Terry Yelmene's insight:
In my humble opinion, this is the very best "Top 10 List" for anyone who intends to lead a new venture - as it was curated from the best of the master himself. -  Highest possible recommendation. 
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8 Actionable Ways to Get Your Startup’s First 100 Customers

8 Actionable Ways to Get Your Startup’s First 100 Customers | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
For most startups, attracting the first 100 customers can be a challenge. Here are 8 actionable steps you can start today to reach this milestone.
Terry Yelmene's insight:
All business has always been based on establishing relationships.  This is true even with today's social media/and will be true in tomorrow's digital business age.
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Designing and starting up a customer-experience transformation | McKinsey & Company

Designing and starting up a customer-experience transformation | McKinsey & Company | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
Designing and starting up a customer-experience transformation
By Ewan Duncan, Harald Fanderl, and Katy Maffei
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To successfully initiate a broad improvement program, decide on a structure, select the sequence that’s right for your type of company, and don’t forget to recruit change agents.

As improving customer experience becomes a bigger component of corporate strategy, more and more executives will face the decision to commit their organizations to a broad customer-experience transformation. But it’s not sufficient to understand that the benefits of change are great. The immediate challenge will be choosing how to structure the organization and rollout, and deciding where and how to get started.


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These are critical issues because, like many far-reaching and complex business programs, customer-experience transformations frequently fail to live up to expectations. The foundations of such transformations require organizations to make cultural changes and to rewire themselves operationally and financially. Customer journeys, which are cross-functional by nature, cut across traditional organizational boundaries, and changing this dynamic is tricky.

It is important to think about program design before you start: decide on a structure, examine the best sequence for your type of company, and make sure you are engaging change agents and minimizing the inevitable resistance. You’ll also want to think about where to start, so you can be sure to deliver near-term impact. This is crucial for gaining momentum and organizational buy-in and for identifying the funding and capacity to reinvest in your transformation.

Choosing an overall architecture

The first step in setting up any customer-experience transformation is establishing the right overall architecture. A typical program involves five elements. Senior executives will want to set a clear, inspiring vision for the ideal customer experience, including a change story to underline the importance of delivering on goals. Drawing up a governance blueprint is also important, both to set up a mechanism to make decisions on cross-cutting initiatives and to align new and ongoing initiatives in each function with overall customer-experience objectives. Drafting an initiative road map will serve as a portfolio of actions to deliver on the vision. Metrics and initiative objectives should be set to gauge progress. It’s important to monitor both “hard” metrics on performance and “soft” metrics that relate to organizational health. Finally, establishing purpose-driven change-management principles will define a new way of working, embed it in the organization, and guide frontline employees across functions (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1

Drafting a road map

Other articles in this compendium have explored how to create a vision and shape an effective governance structure for a customer-experience change program (see “Developing a customer-experience vision” and “Leading and governing the customer-centric organization”). To draw an initiative road map for a broad transformation, there are three primary decisions to make: the organizational approach, sequencing, and impact timing.

Organizational approach

Is it better to push change functionally or cross-functionally, with a journey-by-journey focus? The critical factor in answering this question is where you think you can best build and sustain momentum.

Most companies are organized functionally, so proceeding by function often is an easy way to get going (Exhibit 2). Organizations can use the voice of the customer to identify opportunities to improve within functions. Tapping into the voice of the customer involves a range of systems that capture feedback, including satisfaction scores and verbatim opinions; it’s increasingly common to use information from sources like social media, too. Typically, a central group is tasked with aggregation, analytics, and gathering internal and external insights on what truly matters to your target customer, within your industry, and for your organization.

Exhibit 2

Over time, the voice of the customer can be used to identify upstream and cross-functional issues and address the root causes of problems. This is likely to be your approach if you’re in the 80 percent of companies performing in the middle of your peer set—not broken and dysfunctional, but not a top performer, either. This approach should allow you to get started and show early results within the existing organizational structure.

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An alternative is to structure the transformation cross-functionally from the outset, focusing on a set of specific customer journeys (Exhibit 3). The benefit of this approach is that it emphasizes the end-to-end experience for customers, given that they’re exposed to organizations across channels and functions. The idea is to design “future back”—first determining the ideal future experience and then tackling a set of initiatives to overhaul an entire journey from start to finish. The initiatives can then be mapped onto the existing organization using different goals and metrics; in more extreme cases, you can shift the organization to mirror the customer-back, cross-functional view. Typically, the approach will evolve, as redesigning and embedding journeys at scale takes time to implement. Cross-functional working teams should be convened to tackle these journeys.

Exhibit 3

KPN, a high-performing Dutch telecommunications company, reoriented its business around cross-functional working teams. Similarly, Canadian telco Telus organized its 8,000-employee frontline team into cross-functional working pods of about 200 people each. In retail customer care and field service–oriented companies, doing so is a powerful way to bring everyone close to the customer. And Middle Eastern bank Emirates NBD reorganized itself to concentrate on customer journeys, irrespective of channel, to create an organization-wide singular customer-journey focus.

Sequencing

Is it better to start in one functional area, in one journey, and show what’s possible before rolling out changes, or to launch in all areas at the outset?

Most companies prefer to tackle one area at first. Doing so can help build momentum by proving the benefit of the change before it’s scaled up for the rest of the organization. And starting small tends to be more practical for the majority of organizations, which need to identify additional resources and change agents who can push for performance gains that are bigger and faster than the organization is used to. These change agents then become the coaches for subsequent waves in other parts of the organization.

Some companies like to launch everywhere, across functions, and take a big-bang approach.

Organizations that do this well establish a baseline with voice-of-the-customer data and feed results back to the functions. Individual operational leaders are allowed to make the decisions that make the most sense for the customer, given the capability and constraints of the function. Some companies try to use the voice of the customer to coordinate efforts and organize implementation centrally. In those cases, a central group manages analytics and prioritizes efforts. Usually, we see greater impact when this happens because investment decisions are made at a broader level.

In carrying out a big-bang approach, it’s important to set goals for the entire organization. Tweak them for different groups, depending on the competitive situation (customer-experience performance is based as much on product and geographic specifics as it is on internal performance), then let the organization figure out how to achieve the goal. Establishing a central “SWAT team” can help steer improvement and provide teams with resources. When one large European shipping company with 30,000 employees worldwide and a presence in more than 100 countries adopted a big-bang approach, it linked 40 percent of every department’s and employee’s yearly evaluation to customer-experience improvement for two years. Then it let individual departments figure out how to implement specific initiatives, supported by SWAT teams.

Another option that is becoming more common is using digital capabilities to design an entire journey or subjourney from scratch. Such “clean sheeting” can cut through functional bureaucracies. For example, a European bank designed and delivered a completely digital onboarding experience for opening a new account by bringing together a working team with representatives from all functions that affected the process so it could be reimagined. The project’s kickoff materials were a blank wall and lots of sticky notes. This method works because it quickly results in a “perfect” journey that a subset of customers experiences digitally; the longer, more incremental work is conducted in parallel to create a nondigital version of the journey across functions.

Impact timing

Should you pick low-hanging fruit first, though it may have less impact, or move aggressively on big-ticket items?

When choosing actions, it’s important to set priorities for initiatives that have near-term impact. To start, pick an area where you can affect revenue growth and reduce costs immediately. This creates momentum for the program, which will get everyone excited and can accelerate progress; it also frees up funds or capacity that can be invested in the rest of the program. As you look at different customer-experience initiatives, measure them for both short- and long-term impact. Make sure there are wins early in the program. For example, a quick policy scrub might eliminate approaches that cost money and don’t really benefit customers, tackle credits, or reduce call volume. Some pricing actions can have quick impact, though these kinds of initiatives generally will reduce—not generate—revenue in a customer-experience program. Impact is often measured operationally, through a drop in calls, fewer calls that must be elevated to managers and supervisors, and other cost measures that come from simplifying the business. Benefits from improved customer experience and heightened loyalty are lagging indicators and will come over time.

In addition to efforts that drive near-term impact, early symbolic actions can send an important signal to the organization. Companies might, for instance, reverse or eliminate policies that were put in place long ago. Or they could change the way the senior team behaves by bringing customer-experience and voice-of-the-customer principles into senior operational meetings and by getting the senior team out on the front line to interact with customers directly.


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Most organizations start customer-experience transformations with a focus on reducing abrasive experiences, which can include rooting out elements that irritate customers or addressing detractors within the organization. Only then do customer-experience advocates go on to create more promoters. Targeting abrasive experiences is usually the right place to begin, particularly when there are many of them. Often, fixing a journey’s broken elements affects many customers and can move customer-experience numbers in a positive direction. Once a stable base case is achieved, organizations should turn their attention to making sure each journey includes wow moments that exceed customer expectations.

Moving to action

Regardless of the structural approach chosen for the customer-experience transformation, securing buy-in from the organization and building momentum depend on balancing two organizational dynamics: blending top-down and bottom-up activities, and addressing hard performance and softer health measures.

Top-down and bottom-up activities

Any program to improve customer experience is ultimately shaped by millions of individual interactions across journeys and functions as customers research, buy, use, and renew products and services. Building a customer-experience culture is about ensuring the employees who interact with customers directly and indirectly make the right choices in those interactions to meet—and, ideally, exceed—customer expectations. Programs thus need a good dose of bottom-up activity, as those behaviors have to be embraced by thousands of employees over time. For example, a global freight forwarder in China asked all employees to start delivering just 1 percent extra a month as they gradually rolled out other top-down initiatives.

Programs that are only nurtured from the bottom up, however, usually produce results that are less than ideal. Executives need to set a top-down aspiration and overarching mission to ensure everyone has the same level of ambition and the same guiding principles. But it’s also important for leaders to set the structure, approach, and underlying methodology to ensure performance is consistent across the organization. Too often, we’ve seen organizations create conditions for change but fail to meet their aspiration or reach the overall goals for the program, though they see some improvement.

A customer-experience transformation at a large international airport demonstrated these principles. Leadership defined cross-functional working teams for each initiative that pulled expertise from the front line and midlevel managers. The teams were given latitude to test new ideas in a leadership-defined “sand-box.” Formal monthly meetings, in which a rotation of teams participated, provided updates on status and impact. Finally, technology-driven crowdsourcing of ideas allowed all stakeholders who interacted with customers to shape the transformation effort more broadly.

Performance and health measures

All customer-experience programs require hard metrics. What matters to customers? What are the underlying elements of customer experience? What goals should be set across and within functions? What priorities should be applied to initiatives to meet those goals? And so on. Where we see many programs fail, however, is in addressing the soft side of change. How do we create the case for change, especially in high-performing organizations? How do we motivate leaders to take the first steps? How do we inspire the rest of the organization to follow?

McKinsey research can be helpful in sorting through these choices in the context of a broad customer-experience transformation.1 In the five frames of performance and health, we make the case for managing with equal rigor both hard and soft measures.

For example, in setting the customer-experience aspiration, a healthy organization will engage leaders and employees so they own goals and results. To do this successfully, there must be a compelling story about the imperative to change. The organization needs to gather input from leaders and employees, while ensuring there’s a critical mass of leaders with a sense of personal ownership of the organization’s aspirations.

Additionally, organizations need to understand and embed strategically important capabilities, as well as to unearth and address the underlying mind-sets that can keep them from realizing their goals.

Identify areas of health that you want to strengthen or shift, and then design appropriate interventions, such as leadership role modeling, improved incentives, and new training and career-development programs.

To check on progress as the transformation continues, make sure everyone understands how individual contributions fit into the big picture. Continue to build ownership through formal accountability and informal marketing. And constantly evaluate progress on your health-related interventions.

Hitting your performance and health targets is not the end, however. Rather, you must ensure a smooth transition to an era of continuous improvement. This requires infrastructure to maintain gains in performance and leadership to nurture advances in organizational health. Rewire your existing organization to support ongoing gains, with systems and leaders to emphasize sharing knowledge, capturing ideas for improvement, and promoting ongoing learning and dedicated expertise. For example, one service provider aligned its functional and cross-functional initiatives with metrics that had functional owners in order to establish customer-experience gains and generate momentum (Exhibit 4).

Exhibit 4

Starting up

The most important criteria for getting a transformation effort off to a fast start is to find the parts of the organization where the leader and at least some employees want to change. These prospective change agents can be high performers who want to get better or laggards who need to improve quickly. Either way, picking those who are most willing can ensure you get off the blocks quickly.

About the author(s)

Ewan Duncan is a director in McKinsey’s Seattle office, Harald Fanderl is a principal in the Munich office, and Katy Maffei is a consultant in the San Francisco office.
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Terry Yelmene's insight:
Thought not necessarily written for startups, there is some great information shared here about a vital startup function; devising a genuine customer experience.  And though the creation for customer experience isn't the only job of a startup, a very strong argument can be made that the customer experience function should be the 'central' job within a startup.
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When your processes fail: The hard truth behind the fluff. – Hungry for Insight. – Medium

When your processes fail: The hard truth behind the fluff. – Hungry for Insight. – Medium | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
Good process + good people = great outcome.
Terry Yelmene's insight:
-Systemic StartUp Success-

Success stems from:

The foundational formula of business operations building:

Good process + good people = great outcome

where good people are the sum of 

your specific best intended and flawlessly executed organizational culture.

ergo; to systemically succeed you must get your 'culture' right.

Check out this great article describing startup building and the fundamental philosophies behind what constitutes good vs bad.   I love this.  Check it out!

And not surprisingly, the majority of this thinking is core to my own work at Operational Capability - (http://operational capability.com - please know that this site is merely a temporary placeholder and will be significantly updated soon).
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How To Design Lead Nurturing, Lead Scoring, and Drip Email Campaigns – Startup Grind – Medium

How To Design Lead Nurturing, Lead Scoring, and Drip Email Campaigns – Startup Grind – Medium | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
In my previous article, How To Track Customer Acquisitions: Customer Lifecycle, Sales Funnel, and Content Strategy, I described how…
Terry Yelmene's insight:
These are very good sales/marketing practices.  I have a sense though that the way they are presented here is a bit suspect.  I believe more attention should be paid to the product or service-product as the means to popularize your business activity.

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19 Easy Ways to Survey Your Potential Customers 

19 Easy Ways to Survey Your Potential Customers  | Startup Practices | Scoop.it

Don't leave your content to chance! Follow these 21 Easy Ways to Survey Your Audience about what they really want. 


Via Daniel Watson
Terry Yelmene's insight:
It's OK to think about asking for insight from your prospective audience in more than one channel - Its a great way to not only have you solution fit and market product fit questions answered you may learn a bit more about where your prospective tribe is actually hanging out!
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Live asynchronously.

Live asynchronously. | Startup Practices | Scoop.it

As an intention Last year I turned off all my notifications. I stopped booking meetings. I started living asynchronously.

Terry Yelmene's insight:
As an intended aspect of your work and you organization's operation... "cooperation" solves all sorts of coordination issues of collaboration.  

The distinctions/differences between all these interaction terms may seem slight, frivolous even, but few distinctions are more impactful to the work performance than these.  Asynchronous operations are preferred in most instances for most operations.  And, synchronous activities implemented at regular intervals for working alignment when/where appropriate should be used to make it all work. 
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How One SaaS Startup Reduced Churn 71% Using Red Flag Metrics

How One SaaS Startup Reduced Churn 71% Using Red Flag Metrics | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
It was January of 2013, and we were meeting to discuss our alarmingly high churn rate, which was hovering around 4.5%.
Terry Yelmene's insight:
Testing and improving around 'churn' is one of the highest value activities a startup can engage in to increase overall traction.  This is a good case to consider for your churn reductions efforts.
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What Basecamps’ CEO taught me about burnout, simplicity, and saying no – Heart at Work – Medium

What Basecamps’ CEO taught me about burnout, simplicity, and saying no – Heart at Work – Medium | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
Jason Fried has been one of my favourite business leaders since I read Rework, which he wrote with his Basecamp co-founder, David Heinemeir…
Terry Yelmene's insight:
Thoughtfully determine your focus, all else is just noise - say NO to the noise.
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The Ultimate Guide to Minimum Viable Product – Hacker Noon

The Ultimate Guide to Minimum Viable Product – Hacker Noon | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
Please raise your hand, if you’ve ever heard about minimum viable product (MVP) and have no clue what it is. When you talk to software development companies or startups itself, you will often hear…
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This article shares some very basic concepts and tips to describe a; minimum viable product
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The Elephant in the Room � – Diana Smith – Medium

The Elephant in the Room � – Diana Smith – Medium | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
When you join an early stage startup, the company as a whole is the most important thing. There are no this department’s or that department’s goals. You just need to get shit done, ideally the right…
Terry Yelmene's insight:
There are a few characteristics that nearly always define a good company cultures from a bad one.  IMHO, the advice opined here should be adopted by every leader who wants to establish a good culture.  Every leader for every new venture should read, adopt, and then be constantly vigilant to maintain organization-wide open/blameless constructive feedback from-to everyone.  This is some of the bedrock stuff of a healthy culture. Do it!
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HubSpot’s Playbook for Going From Startup to Scale-up

HubSpot’s Playbook for Going From Startup to Scale-up | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
I consider a scale-up as a company that is in this third phase. Pouring resources in fast and getting a big return on them without the wheels coming off the bus. In HubSpot’s case, it took us about 1…
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I'm simply calling the startup phases presented here; "The Progression." This makes sense to me.
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11 ways to outsmart your brain and be a better leader

11 ways to outsmart your brain and be a better leader | Startup Practices | Scoop.it

We know from behavioural and neuro-science that our brains struggle with information overload. Timothy Wilson, a Professor of Psychology, estimates our brains receive over 11 million inputs —making   - more -

Originally published at www.weforum.org.
StartupLeadershipJobs

Terry Yelmene's insight:
If you are starting any organization as its leader, then you should know, use, build your cooperative people-based operations around and live by the tactics listed here.  If these are truly pursued well, you can achieve success as a leader. Seriously!
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Stop Trying to “Do It All”

Stop Trying to “Do It All”
Limits are not, well, limiting. Framed correctly, putting a cap on your ambition and future plans is tremendously freeing.

By Oliver Burkeman

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It’s the most obvious fact in the world – or at least it ought to be – that life is a series of trade-offs. Spend $10 on a cheeseburger, and you can’t also stash that same $10 in your savings account. Marry your college sweetheart, and (for the time being) you can’t marry anyone else. Naturally, it’s the same with your work: any given hour, week or year dedicated to one project can’t be used for another. Yet most of us, whether we realize it or not, are deep in denial: we make enormous efforts to ignore the reality of tradeoffs – and, as a consequence, deny ourselves the best chance of a maximally fulfilling creative career. Unlikely as it sounds, recognizing this truth is a powerful cure for overwhelm, and a way to achieve relentless focus that will last a lifetime.

It’s an understandable error. Faced with multiple job offers, creative possibilities, or just a long to-do list, who wouldn’t seek ways to do them all, rather than having to choose? After all, as the management writer Greg McKeown points out, “by definition, a trade-off involves two things we want. Do you want more pay or more vacation time? Do you want to finish this next email or be on time to your meeting?” The ideal answer would always be yes to both – and a thousand productivity gurus are standing by, ready with techniques to boost your efficiency. Sometimes, that’s helpful. But far too often, that promise of more productivity is just a seductive way to avoid facing up to trade-offs – with the result that you fritter your focus, spending time on everything except the work that matters most.

That promise of more productivity is just a seductive way to avoid facing up to trade-offs.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it’s worth noting why trade-offs are a problem in the first place: because you’re going to die. Barring any breakthroughs in the efforts of certain Silicon Valley billionaires to “solve death,” you have an absurdly finite span in which to accomplish a handful of the infinite number of things that you could, in theory, achieve. It might seem like your mortality is irrelevant when it comes to deciding, say, whether to spend the next half-hour on email, or sketching project ideas. But if you had infinite time, there’d be no decision to make. Mortality is the only reason to care about time management at all.

And death, of course, is absolutely terrifying: no wonder we try so desperately hard to believe the modern cultural message that there are no limits, and everything is possible. We suffer, as the novelist and environmentalist Wendell Berry puts it, from “a disease of limitlessness”. And it is a disease: people who ignore the reality of their limits, who always imagine there’ll be time later on, who Berry writes, “never make the most of anything.”

The good news is that facing up to your limitedness – and with it, to the necessity of trade-offs – needn’t be depressing at all. In 1955, in a largely forgotten book entitled Teach Yourself To Live, an upper-crust English lawyer called Charles DuCann likened it to taking a cold shower. “At first it may shock. But in a while it is exhilarating. You know where you are… you are no longer befogged and bewildered by a false and misleading illusion about yourself and life… like most people.” When a friend asks if you’ll jump on board with her new business, or a possible freelance gig arrives by email, you’ll see more clearly what you’re giving up in exchange. Which means that if you do decide to say yes, you’ll be freed from the nagging worry that you ought to be doing something else.

There are many practical ways to make trade-offs feel more vivid. For a start, you could take the advice of the time management coach Mark Forster, and abandon your “catch-all” to-do list in favor of one limited to five entries. (If you can only choose five, you’re forced to make tough decisions – whereas catch-all lists encourage the illusion that you might, somehow, get everything done.) Or follow Warren Buffet’s suggestion: list your 25 top career goals, choose the five you value the most, then treat the remaining 20 as your “avoid at all costs” list. They’re the dangerous ones: the somewhat attractive goals most likely to lure you from your truly important priorities.

Ultimately, though, it’s a matter not of techniques, but a shift in perspective: to learn to see everything you choose to do (including, by the way, choosing to procrastinate on making a decision) as a choice not to do a million other things. You can’t fit everything in – and any productivity expert who suggests otherwise is like the “friend” who urges a recovering alcoholic to relax with a gin and tonic. Sober up! Time is short – and the big surprise is that life and work are both far more thrillingly meaningful once you realize it.

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Oliver Burkeman

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Oliver Burkeman is the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, and writes a column on psychology for The Guardian. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Follow him at @oliverburkeman.
Terry Yelmene's insight:
The Constrain-Driven Mind Shot - 
***This may be the most important post I will ever pass along/post here.***
At first read, the messaging here seems a bit pessimistic - 'life is short' - limit yourself to only one to a few endeavors." - BUT - re-read... like an Escher print, see the negative imaged message here... - "limit yourself to only one to a few endeavors -  but make it a big worthwhile endeavor - after all, life is short."
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The Happiness Equation of a Data-Driven Culture – The School of Little Data – Medium

The Happiness Equation of a Data-Driven Culture – The School of Little Data – Medium | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
When you introduce a KPI dashboard, you can expect to see some deer-in-headlights looks from your employees.
Terry Yelmene's insight:
The advantages of clear, open transparency extend far beyond just the interconnectedness of the team/employees into true problem identification and organizational responsiveness.  And although true transparency is a necessary and fundamental  foundation of a quality culture, it is not sufficient by itself to establish such a culture.  Culture must be bound in mission and values and practices and deeds.  It is transparency along with leadership then that must bind these together.  If done well, these structures and traits can form the basis for a venture that can stand the tests of time, marketplace, and change.
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How to communicate with your board in tough times

How to communicate with your board in tough times | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
For startup CEOs, tough economic periods are like stressful stretches in a marriage: They test your mettle while making ugly truths impossible to hide. These..
Terry Yelmene's insight:
This article's first paragraph (and presumably the article) is about openly communicating with investors when a crisis comes. But thankfully the article's intent broadens to the essential nature of what's important in such a time and very quickly it comes clear; situational communication, is not what this article is about.  

This article is ultimately about "character." Coming through load and clear between the lines is the strong advocacy for the necessary character elements of both the successful entrepreneur and the successful investor to achieve success together. Each needs to always be open to and united within, an empathic relationship which is based upon being together in the pursuit of a common goal, not the venture necessarily, but rather the best ultimate success of each other.  If problems are tackled and opportunities are pursued from such a united posture, then this difficult communication should not be so difficult and success should be less difficult too. 
~ tyelmene
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The Five Types of Virality

The Five Types of Virality | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
and choosing the right one for your product to grow
Terry Yelmene's insight:
All new business-product-marketing strategy must be highly tailored/specific, yet all marketing-product-new-business strategy must be global/universal.  And though every new business entity can draw cues and learning from all that have gone before, ultimately, this is a paradox that each startup must wrestle with/devise it's own strategy - a well-suited to be matched marketing approach to the ideal product is the key. think about this info in your earliest days to get the best product and get the message out.

- matched product-to-marketing is essential to hit the growth stage running -

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Inspiring Your Employees: Bringing Your Team to Greater Heights

Inspiring Your Employees: Bringing Your Team to Greater Heights | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
Inspiration doesn’t always come naturally. But that certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t help stoke the flames, or so to speak. Inspiring…
Terry Yelmene's insight:
To evaluate the strength and positivity of your startup culture, gauge it against the prescribed tactics in this article. 
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You’re Just Not That Strategic: Seven Objections You’ll Have to Overcome to Get to the Top – Personal Growth – Medium

You’re Just Not That Strategic: Seven Objections You’ll Have to Overcome to Get to the Top – Personal Growth – Medium | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
In my early 30s, a group of executives decided to overhaul the strategic direction of my team, and I wasn’t even in the room.
Terry Yelmene's insight:
To become more strategic, look for opportunities to exercise the strategy sense you have now. You can 'grow' it! 
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The secret to good ideas – Medium

The secret to good ideas – Medium | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
Ideas are a dime a dozen. You have good ideas, I have good ideas, but you and I both know, we have a cornucopia of terrible ideas.
Terry Yelmene's insight:
Not every idea has a chance of being a winner, but every idea will be a loser if it's developed badly.  It's nearly always a good policy to reduce as many aspects of the idea's risk as possible. This article introduces some concepts around reducing the risk of exciting new ideas.
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The Big Audience “Blind Spot” We Often Miss: Validating your audience’s worldview. – Medium

The Big Audience “Blind Spot” We Often Miss: Validating your audience’s worldview. – Medium | Startup Practices | Scoop.it
There’s a Big Blind Spot in Most Marketing Today.
Terry Yelmene's insight:
This is the work of a startup.  Oh sure there will be a product/service that will be an outcome of the work, but the REAL WORK of a startup is to throughly validate a detailed and developing business model comprised most by a customer/market value proposition.  And the way you do THAT, is to a large degree the work that's inferred as a activity required to make the other major product you will need for success; the one described in this article; your STORY.  
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