So I’ve been working in New York Silicon Alley Startup Culture (initial caps intended) since April.
I may have mentioned somewhere in this blog that on some days it’s like being on swift, sleek, schooner – wind swept sunny goodness, white cotton shirt flapping in the breeze.
And on other days…it’s Deadliest Catch choppy, fending through 10 foot high cold icy waves of rapidly approaching deadlines.
Or – somewheres in between. And mostly, a lot of fun.
I’ve had a few good a-ha moments I wanted to share with you.
First A-ha: A PMP’s value-add is in Implementation
There’s one very important thing I’m learning about startups and it makes me think about thetalk I went to with Eric Reis where he noted that the hardest part about growing any company is the boring second act, where company growth means dealing with the tedious, non-sexy stuff. Stuff like documenting repeatable processes, taking down meeting notes, deciding on follow through – all things very brilliant entrepreneurs don’t really want to deal with.
So I have to give credit to my company, Crowd Fusion, for having the foresight to hire someone like me – an extremely process orientated ‘Now Wait A Minute That’s Not What We Decided Yesterday’ type of girl.
Seriously, I think that every growing startup needs someone to implement decisions. Implementation (aka execution) is having a plan for making brilliant ideas come to life. I’ve found that includes:
- Recapping decisions at the end of meetings
- Figuring out what next steps are
- Not letting people leave important decisions without figuring out who is responsible for what (action items)
- Simply reminding people of action items and gently prodding until they get done
This seems like normal PM stuff – but really, I’ve heard form my co-workers that other startups they’ve worked for are lacking this skill set. And then those companies hit walls as they grow.
As a PMP, I’m starting to see that my value-add in a startup is not in the Initiation and Planning part of IPECC, because startups are havens of good ideas, and brilliant minds who know how to…well.. “startup” stuff.
My value-add is clearly in pure decision Execution. If you are thinking of joining a startup and you’ve worked in big corporate firms, you can provide tremendous value just by knowing how to get and keep the trains running.
Second A-Ha: Don’t Control the Process, Control how the Process is Built
One of the most key Agile and Kanban principles is that teams of people are the best originators of processes, not corporate policy offices, or centralized PMOs. Process has to come from the team who is going to follow the process.
So how do you do that? You do that by setting up a process for process change that incorporates the following:
- Spontaneous Creation of Process Anyone at anytime can create/modify a process
- Easy Documentation The process must be documented following an easy to use template that specifies actors, inputs/outputs and step by step details
- Peer review and approval New/updated processes must go through peer review. This ensures the all important buy-in factor
- Process Management Review and Approval New/updated process must go through process management review. This ensures that integration points will be addressed, especially if the new process impacts other existing processes.
So by providing the mechanism for process change, rather than detailed control of the content, we can still allow teams to innovate and grow with what works for them, but get good, ratified, documented process as well. It’s the best of both worlds.