Top 5 Tweets from Week #4 @ 2015

Followme TwitterThis week I wanted to start a new practice, which is to summarize what I consider to be my most relevant Top 5 Tweets of the past week.

#1: “The Founder’s Dilemmas” in 5 Minutes (@Tech Cocktail) because every Entrepreneur needs to go into their next venture with their eyes fully wide open. I will even go as far to say that the underlying logic of this 5 minute summary is a great exercise for any leader in any industry at any stage company!

#2: Evaluate Your Leadership Development Program (@HBR) because I keep hearing too many executives tell me they don’t have solid measurables around how they evaluate the success of the different leadership initiatives they have going on in their businesses. At the end of the day, how is the money, energy & focus you’re investing deliver quantifiable business benefit for your company AND the individual?

#3: Communication Tips for Global Virtual Teams (@HBR) because without effective communication you go nowhere fast! Starting with EFFECTIVE email, keeping people informed within the context & relevance to your top priorities & results is key to keeping everyone (regardless of physical borders) engaged & on the same page.

#4: Corporate culture drives financial performance (@Forbes) because strong corporate cultures that facilitate adaptation to a changing world are associated with strong financial results. Those cultures that encourage leadership from everyone in the firm, find that when a customer needs change, a firm’s culture almost forces people to change their practices to meet the new needs. And anyone, not just a few people, is empowered to do just that.

#5: What Makes Someone an Engaging Leader (@HBR) because firms that achieve both top quartile engagement levels and better business results than their peers, find that they do have something in common. It’s the prevalence of a certain kind of leader, not just at the top, but throughout the ranks of the organization. These individuals – we call them engaging leaders – are distinguished by a certain set of characteristics.

If you like what what you’ve read and you’re not already doing so, I encourage you to follow-me on Twitter.

DISCLAIMER: I’ve added the source of each article included in the tweet as depending on the status of your subscription to these online publications, you may have difficulty in following some or all of these links.

What It Takes To Be A Successful Start-up & Entrepreneur

key_to_successDoing my research before another trip to Sydney Australia over the Christmas break, I came across some information which I’d like to recap as a good summary of the attributes you’ll want to nail for a successful 2015 campaign.

You could say that these talents are necessary for anyone that wants to achieve great success and or wants to be a great leader, but they are especially true for successful entrepreneurs.

Attributes for a HOT Startup

In the article 19 Hot Australian Startups to Watch in 2015, the author highlights what can help predict a successful start-up.

1. Solving a Real Problem: We really need to believe it’s real and significant pain to someone.

2. Team and Execution: We look for teams that are strong both technically and commercially with evidence they can execute.

3. Scalable Customer Acquisition & Service Delivery: Have they worked out how to cost effectively acquire new customers. Can they scale service delivery with minimal effort, if they are doubling users every month, do they have to recruit 100 new staff each month or press a button and launch 30 virtual cloud servers? Most businesses are not built to scale, either the product, people or the process will break.

Nail these 3 attributes & you’ll achieve High Growth.

10 talents of successful entrepreneurs

From the Gallup article on the 10 Talents That Drive Entrepreneurial Success, Gallup has identified the behaviors observed in highly successful entrepreneurs.

  • Business Focus: You make decisions based on observed or anticipated effect on profit.
  • Confidence: You accurately know yourself and understand others.
  • Creative Thinker: You exhibit creativity in taking an existing idea or product and turning it into something better.
  • Delegator: You recognize that you cannot do everything and are willing to contemplate a shift in style and control.
  • Determination: You persevere through difficult, even seemingly insurmountable, obstacles.
  • Independent: You are prepared to do whatever needs to be done to build a successful venture.
  • Knowledge-Seeker: You constantly search for information that is relevant to growing your business.
  • Promoter: You are the best spokesperson for the business.
  • Relationship-Builder: You have high social awareness and an ability to build relationships that are beneficial for the firm’s survival and growth.
  • Risk-Taker: You instinctively know how to manage high-risk situations.

Call to Action

How many can you claim to check-off as having onboard? How are you going to surround yourself with complementary resources to cover areas where you fall short?

Effective Meeting Content, Cadence & Rhythm for Scale

Businesspeople working on laptop in an office.A highly successful fast growth company recently asked me for a more effective process to deal with his team meetings. Now that the company has grown 10x, meeting effectiveness was rapidly starting to breakdown.

Here’s an extract of my emailed response to them.


Here’s my prefered cadence, subject to a better understanding of which (& quantity of) KPI’s you’re sharing, including a more detailed understanding of what’s going on in your business (looking under the hood) at this current stage.

  • Weekly @ 45m-90m
    • Wins @ 10-15m: One most significant progress made on one OKR. Going around the room, you should get 1 significant update on at least 6-8 OKRs (depending on allocation & quantity)
    • Rocks @ 10-15m: Roadblocks / impediments (current / on the horizon) to making progress on OKRs
    • KPI’s @ 10-15m
    • A/B Testing conversation (if relevant) @ 10-20m

  • Monthly @ 2-3h (expanded upon below)
    • OKR’s
    • Capacity Planning
    • Organizational Dynamics
    • New Business & Strategic Updates

  • Quarterly @ 1/2 day (90m work sprints & 15m breaks)
    • OKRs (retrospect)
    • Top 3-5 Priorities (retrospect)
    • DOS Conversation
    • Top 3-5 Priorities (planning)
    • Cascade Planning: done by the expanded Coordination Team

Still on What is discussed, since you should be looking at KPI’s (tactical) on a weekly basis, your monthly should be split into 2 parts. Part 1 is the tactical weekly segment & part 2 is the strategic monthly segment. @ Part 2 I would suggest the following order / sequence.


In your retrospect process, make sure you’re looking at the activities that drive (lead to) successful KPI’s instead of focusing on the KPI itself. If not all, some of your KPI’s should be driving / contributing toward the successful achievement of your OKR’s.

Sizing of participation

6-8 is the ideal number of participants for an effective meeting, so consider (for future consideration) that at 10 currently, you’re close the max “productive scope” of 12 participants. At 12 & beyond your meetings will deteriorate significantly. You should be following a cascading planning process (top-bottom) & an agile scrum (bottom-up) in order to maintain the “executive team” at it’s optimal number of 6-8.

How To Get More Relevant Work Done

relevance-300x259This thoughtLEADERS post couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. If there’s one common thread that most companies suffer from, it’s lack of agility to do the right things.

How much of your team’s work is irrelevant or a waste of time/efficiency?

And the survey says:

– Less than 5%: 15.5%
– 6% to 15%: 33.04%
– 16% to 25%: 31.14%
– 26% or more: 20.32%

More than 50% of those polled believe they’re wasting more than 15% of their team’s time on irrelevant work. More than 20% said it’s 25% or more of their time. Imagine how much more of the right work could get done if that irrelevant stuff went away.

Don’t call it stupid stuff

That’s just wrong! It’s easy to say in hindsight, but it’s not motivating for your team, and it definitely doesn’t help them engage any better when it’s leadership has failed to implement the right rhythm into their process planning & execution.

Most often, the reason irrelevant work is getting done can be attributed to:

– No focus / wrong focus in the organization
– Ineffective cascade planning and or capacity planning
– Lacking agile business planning and or practices

The solution is NOT always doing less stuff, but doing more of the right & relevant stuff.

Doing the Right Stuff

Too many organizations still embark on projects that are highly relevant during the planning stages, but less than 50% relevant by the time the project is launched. Our markets change too fast today! In order to stay relevant we have to borrow from Agile Software Development & be more iterative in our planning AND execution, not just software development.

When was the last time you paused during your execution process to quickly pulsecheck the relevance of what you’re working on. Great companies set a relevance score for any initiative under consideration. Whether it’s revenue impact, market share or any other key result you expect from your project or initiative, it’s a best practice to reflect (at least) on a monthly basis & review / adjust the expected (quantifiable) deliverable. Often the environment around you has changed enough during the build or execution lifetime of a project, that you’d be better served to complete it and or release it at +75% relevance before it gets any worse. Don’t stick with things just for the sake of completion, but rather for the sake of relevance.

Stay Relevant / Be Agile

Set a relevance score for everything you’re about to embark on, establish rhythmic reviews of that relevance and execute in an iterative manner so as to trigger a release or stop action on anything that goes below your minimum relevance tolerance. You’re better served getting what you can from an initiative while it’s still relevant, or moving onto something that is more relevant, than wasting valuable resources working on things that have become irrelevant or underperform in comparison to the investment made.


Why Start-ups Fail @ Architecture

103288606_blog_main_horizontalWinning is simple but it isn’t easy, and hindsight is 20/20. As promised last week, this post is a follow-on to my earlier article Why Startups Fail & what you can do to prevent it. More specifically, the tradeoff when Building vs Architecting your Business Model.

Unless you architect before you build, eventually your enterprise will collapse. It’s not rocket science, yet in the rush to get traction & in the name of time-to-market, not enough entrepreneurs and or businessman do enough of the minimal foundation work required to support their budding enterprise. When looking for resources to help you navigate this start-up challenge, make sure you get someone on-board, or decide on an option that is both agile & experience based. Too much architecture stagnates & kills (missed opportunities), so don’t unnecessarily over complicate your situation.

Sales Operations

Where I most see the rush to build vs. architect have long-term impact on scale is in sales operations, yet the fix is simple & relatively inexpensive. Hire a company like Upshift Partners or a professional like Alicia Assefa. I can personally vouch for these two resources, but at the end of the day they create success because their methodologies & approach is based on practical experience (been there done that) & knowledge transfer. You want to make sure you bring in a resource that quickly understands your unique stage, needs & can roll up their sleeves at any juncture to quickly get you over the hump because they’ve been in your shoes. Not architecting your sales operations from the outset will guarantee heavy lifting, significant change management, customer & revenue churn, not to mention staff turnover & lower valuations in the future.

In an extreme case, it will represent your collapse & ultimate demise.

INVEST early in your Ops Ideology

It’s never too early to INVEST, in itself a process that’s best suited to accompany the scale of any organization. This Executive Summary will give you the 10,000 foot perspective of INVEST, and this more graphical representation will show you all of the moving parts, including what order to execute them. Practical experience, backed by data from Executing Your Strategy, will confirm that 90% of effective strategies on paper fail to poor execution. Pay attention to your Engagement practice, because this is the critical path that only 10% of the population seems to get right on a consistent basis. The model itself is pretty simple to implement, but make sure you get an experienced resource that has both lived it and implemented in a professional environment. Beware of Management Theorists, because effective knowledge transfer & leadership development is key for future success.

Process Centricity

From the Mckinsey article The Past and Future of Global Organizations, note the following extract & make sure that you architect in a process thinking mode. “It’s still too early to paint a definitive picture of what the global organization of the future will look like as efforts like these become more commonplace. What we’re confident about is that “process-centric” thinking will be a more prominent feature of organization design than it has been in the past, even if the peculiarities of culture suggest that each process-based structure is likely to be a custom fit. Leaders should bear in mind these principles as they pursue their own solutions:

– Tomorrow’s answer will be different from today’s. As markets, competitors, and strategies evolve, so will the structural, people, and process elements of a coherent design system.

– The specification of globally consistent roles and processes should be kept to a minimum. The most effective companies allow business units to tailor their organizations to local conditions so as to better achieve their wider commercial goals.

– Technology has made location less important than it used to be—but it still matters. While videoconferencing and social media keep far-flung executives connected, co-location brings additional benefits. Companies should always seek ways to bring people physically together.

If the last 50 years are any guide, the most important organizational structure, process, and people issues will continue to ebb and flow as the environment evolves and organizations respond. But new opportunities for organizational innovation will present themselves, and those companies able to recognize and willing to embrace them will gain huge competitive advantage by doing so.”

Cadence & Agile Workforce to maintain your rapid growth

As promised in my first post, reflection & rhythm and or cadence will also be expanded upon in an upcoming post. That said, you can get a sneak preview in Exhibit 2: (There’s no substitute for regularly revisiting how to adapt structures, people, and processes to create the most effective organizational design) in the same Mckinsey article mentioned above.

 Added Value Freebee

To help architect the best business model for you, including using it as a regular revisit exercise, I highly encourage you to check out The Business Model Canvas.

Winning is simple but it isn’t easy, and hindsight is 20/20.

The road to success is easier than you think, but it’s not simple because every situation is comprised of it’s own unique complexity. Save yourself, time, money, pain and or significant effort by hiring resources that have been there, done that & can provide you their 20/20 practical hindsight.

Related Posts with Thumbnails