Startup Maturity Model
Startups are a dynamic world, if not looked carefully they can appear chaotic. I have been part of a few. Failed miserably on my first one, then selling the next one & finally scaling the third one from a rocket ship to a decacorn. The journey has been personally very rewarding.
Company keeps changing as it is growing. At the last organisation, I realised “we are a new company every 6 months”. What is important in a few million dollar company is very different from what makes an impact in a multi billion dollar company. Keeping up with the change is challenging. Several people just get overwhelmed and churn away, just never understanding what is truly going around them.
To succeed in such an environment, it is essential to know what is important at the given time. Focus will keep shifting with the growth and people need to adapt. In my view, there are 5 major focus shifts companies will go through when scaling from an early stage to a corporation.
At this stage, the company is focused on getting its problem definition and thus the product right. Swiftly iterating towards a product market fit with the goal to deliver a workable product to the target market.
At this stage, problem patterns emerge. The early problem stage resulted in a successful “tracer bullet”, now the goal is to build around that. Skeleton is in place and teams consolidate around them. Optimisation starts on new focused problem spaces.
By the time this stage has arrived, companies realise that their processes are too outdated for the headcount they have. Information flow is now the limiting problem for growth. Goal shifts to tell everyone what to do sustainably, while reducing friction within the organization.
In spite of all the fixes made, predictability is largely missing in the system. Hence at this stage, focus is about finding the rhythm. It is time to build a symphony of an orchestra across teams, finding the right amount of slack and planning in the system, and steering.
With a well oiled machine in place, most of the planning comes in terms of resource allocation, as optimisation begins for output. Hopefully to infinity and beyond.
All of these focus areas exist at all times, but prioritisation can only be one. Focus is a currency. Being explicit about the focus helps build understanding for everyone in the organisation. And hopefully less burnout.