Make order out of chaos, and then make chaos out of order
Tom Tunguz talks about the importance of both creating process to create order out of chaos, and then also continually improving those processes once they’re in place:
Once in place, these processes can’t remain static. Processes must stay relevant and productive through persistent improvement. This means using software to instrument processes, charging team leaders with the responsibilities to create new ways of doing things and pushing the company towards rapid improvement.
This is a good point, but bear in mind that command and control (“here, team leader, you’re in charge of getting everyone to follow this new process”) is not the only way – and is in fact a way that’s proven to create enormous amounts of inertia as the company grows.
Once upon a time, the way companies evolved their processes was via a “thaw – change – refreeze” model where a need for change was defined and then led to a clearly delineated transition phase. In today’s world, though, things change faster, and companies have to adapt faster. Nowadays, to be successful in the long run, a company needs to learn to adapt and change continually, and never freeze.
You might think this is only a problem for large companies, but actually it’s just as much of a problem for smaller ones. Change-averse culture can set in even at relatively small sizes of 10 or so, if no one is taking care to keep things moving in the right direction. Large companies can afford to waste billions on change programmes (sort of), but small companies are often against the ropes. Our main advantage as smaller companies is often adaptability – but just being a small company doesn’t mean you’ve remained adaptable.