Moving Fast. Keeping Things Together.

What you see above is the M.O. in driving towards extreme growth. But it comes back to haunt as a company shifts through the growth gearbox.

Common threads of discussions with CEOs, founders & teams I partner with every day dig on several basic challenges:

  • The Need for Speed. Balancing innovation, ideation & agility with process.
  • Scaling. Evolving teams beyond the start-up phase through the multiple “acts” of company-scaling & maturation.
  • Hiring Discipline & Peer Review. Adopting manical focus for making certain that every hire is an “A” hire. Establishing ownership of team members for selecting each other. Having the team hold itself to the highest standard of performance.
  • Communications & Leadership.  Developing managers into leaders.
  • Establishing and Developing a Dynamic Company Culture.  Building core principles as a team, enforced as a team.
  • Holding it Together. Keeping the vision front of mind for every employee.  Having every employee focused on their individual role & their part in achieving team success.
Though every company, situation and environment is different, like most, I tend to draw on past experiences to problem-solve my way through challenges. I find myself going back to lessons learned at the outset of my career as a manager, then entrepreneur, and then later again as a manager and executive.
One super-formative set of experiences was at Lotus Development Corp.

Many today might not even recognize the name, but Lotus at one time was one of the two largest software companies in the world. Well over $1 billion in revenue and over 14K employees. It rose from a standing start to $53M in revenue its first year, through IPO a year later, through the then-largest exit in industry history — a now-paltry-sized 🙂 $3.6 billion acquisition by IBM in 1995.

Extreme growth. Lotus, in its day, was an incredible place. A super-diverse aggregation of super-smart, sub-30 year-olds from the best technical and business schools, fresh off the campus or their first roles from the best tech vendors of the day.  All looking to learn, to take risks, to create a new industry. To get somewhere fast and to get big fast.

At an early senior management offsite, Founder Mitch Kapor and CEO Jim Manzi led a group of discussions about what kind of company we really wanted to be when we grew up. How would we build our foundation?  How would we treat our customers? How would we treat each other? How do we get shit done with thought and speed?

From that first meeting came our Magna Carta. Our “operating system” as a team. The doctrine guiding how we’d compete externally, how we’d work together, and how we might protect ourselves — from ourselves. Through explosive growth & the daily roller coaster of getting things done.

Brilliant, sensical, thoughtful stuff I find myself paraphrasing every day — the process to develop them as important as the ideals themselves.

This post was originally published at I Know You Know on October 16, 2015. 

Categories: Polaris

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