As a business leader, you've got some options when it comes to how you organize your company, and some might work better than others, depending on your industry and the type of goals you have. You can also revise your structure over time to meet new demands or objectives. In fact, it's pretty common for companies to go through growing pains and pivot to something different based on what they learn. Although that flexibility can keep you going, change can be costly and stressful. So, what can you do to up the odds of success right from the start?
1. Do what Doerr said
In his book Measure What Matters, John Doerr expanded on some concepts from Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel. Doerr focused on looking at objectives and key results, or OKRs. These can be set for the entire company, a group, or just a single person in your business. They outline a goal and describe a benchmark, or how you measure success for that goal. For instance, if your goal is to boost sales, then your key result might be the number of units sold or the total dollar value. Whatever you're measuring, at the end, you should be able to look back and answer "Did I do it or didn't I?" with a simple yes or no.
The beautiful thing about this simple perspective on management is that it is incredibly effective at getting people aligned. Everyone can see where the team needs to go, how they're going to get there, and what the definition of success is. It promotes extreme ownership from both groups and individuals, because there is clarity about what needs to happen, and people can use the OKRs to monitor themselves or others.
This mindset of measurability is something you can apply at any point. But if you apply it right from when you first have a concept for your company, then it's much easier to get a sense of the people and resources you need and how to logically group them. The company's direction becomes incredibly grounded. This is always important, but it's especially critical at the startup stage, when you really need everybody to join forces and commit with everything they've got.
Of course, there's the question of whether Doerr's strategy has real-world clout. The short answer is, absolutely. Not only did Google adopt it, but people also consider it to be one of the major drivers of growth within Silicon Valley. Just about every business there operates with OKRs, and in fact, most of the framework for my own company, KnowBe4, is built on OKRs, too. And when KnowBe4 went through hyper-growth, we used OKRs to drive forward and ensure we were serving the customers' best interests.
2. Consider the ability to scale
Another way to give yourself a leg up in leveraging your organizational structure, is to think about whether you can scale your setup. Many companies don't do this at the beginning because they are so concerned with just getting footing. But ideally, start with something you can continually replicate over and over at a highly competitive price. If you can't scale it, don't do it, period.
3. Set the culture and rules
One of the most common mistakes I see from business leaders is that they wait until they come out of "stealth mode" and start getting revenue to really define their ideal, what they want the culture to be like, or what rules they expect people to follow. But you should have a concept of what behaviors at the organization should look like well before you hire anyone or complete a transaction. If you verbalize your terms and vision in your handbook before the company starts hiring, then you can attract the right people and know exactly how they are going to drive the business goals. It's easy to discuss expectations during hiring and make sure everyone is clear on what their role will be.
Start at day zero to position yourself for success
Organizational structure is not necessarily a rigid thing. You can change with the market, if need be. But your setup always should be intentional, rather than an afterthought or hodgepodge. Using the OKR framework, considering scalability, and defining your culture and expectations, are all strategies you can do not from day one, but from day zero. Adopt the right mindsets and define your best practices early, then take them with you on your company's journey.