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Head of Hospitality, Communications Tech Company, Toronto, ON

Is your Startup Slowing Down too Much

One of the biggest frustrations founders ask me about is:“Everything is slowing down! The more people I hire, the less seems to get done.”

Is your Startup Slowing Down too Much?

Why is that? Founders tell me things like:

On the sales side it is probably worse. You have just closed that Series-B round, setting huge expectations to investors, and Sales is missing their target already.

On the Process side, there is a lot of effort—but is something working?

Competing Priorities

What is the root cause here?

Well, every company is different but often I find it is too many competing priorities.

Too many ideas get converted into action items, and before you know it, people are just feeling overwhelmed.

A very simple solution is to reduce the number of competing priorities everyone works on.

  1. One lever for that is to focus only on company priorities, not functional priorities. The reason is that as a company grows and gains more market share, the value-added comes more from how the functions work together, rather than from work done within one particular function. That is why I say, only focus on company-wide priorities, things that the company really needs to get done to get to that next level and to get closer to their coveted goal of product-market-dominance. We also want to time-box these goals into a fixed timeline of one quarter, so that we can evaluate all the goals together, and set new goals all at the same time.

  2. I also want the company to cut the list off at just five company priorities and I’ve learned this from no one better than Warren Buffet. Warren Buffet has taken a lot of executives through the same exercise:

And that’s why I suggest every company has no more than 5 quarterly priorities.

=< goals

Third, have each priority be owned by one owner only. And this one owner should not be the CEO. Because if a priority is owned by just the CEO, It is really owned by no one.

So to summarize, if you are feeling everything is slowing down that the more you hire, the less gets done, investigate if you’re not having people focus on too many priorities. A very good solution can be to reduce the competing priorities that people face.

  1. By focusing only on company priorities; the things that get done across functions, not within functions.

  2. Define maximum five priorities

  3. Have each priority be owned by one owner each, that is not the CEO.

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Head of Product, MedTech Company, Los Angeles, CA