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The Startup Operating System

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Slides from the 2018 Point Nine Founder meeting on designing the "operating system" that runs your company.

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The Startup Operating System

  1. 1. The Startup Operating System Michael Wolfe Advisor, Point Nine michael@pointninecap.com
  2. 2. “You need to execute harder!”
  3. 3. Founder or first employee at five B2B companies Two acquisitions, one IPO, one in progress Exec at two public companies VP Engineering, VP Product Management, CTO, CEO Advisor, Point Nine About Me
  4. 4. There is no one way to do things. But good companies tend to do certain things well. Keep it simple - this is not the best place to innovate.
  5. 5. When you’re starting up Work like crazy Try lots of stuff Don’t kill each other Hope and pray
  6. 6. Team ∙ Customers Money ∙ Investors Mo’ problems
  7. 7. Wildly talented people Who get along Working hard On the right things Adjusting as they learn What you want
  8. 8. That is not the natural human condition. You have to be deliberate.
  9. 9. The Startup Operating System The system of habits, practices, and values you use to run your company
  10. 10. 90 people Direct sales Two offices Enterprise
  11. 11. Cadence Plan Transparency Three ideas
  12. 12. Cadence The regular rhythm (weekly, monthly, quarterly) of events that happen at your company.
  13. 13. Confidential 14
  14. 14. Sample weekly cadence Exec team meeting Team meetings One-on-ones Weekly release Forecast callCustomer readout Mon Tue Wed ThuFri Company meeting Product leads mtg
  15. 15. Board meeting Planning offsite Training / team building offsite Board call Replan Monthly GTM training Monthly GTM training Sample quarterly cadence 1 2 3 NPS Surveys
  16. 16. Train the crap out of people. Then train then some more. Then do it again. So bake it into your OS. Why Cadence: Training
  17. 17. Syncs up the team. Makes room for travel. Reduces schedule conflicts. Allows “meeting free” days. Why Cadence: Logistics
  18. 18. People get to lead. People know their window for input. Predicable schedules. Why Cadence: Morale
  19. 19. Forces decisions to happen. Encourages accountability. Why Cadence: Speed
  20. 20. Adjust your plan based on new information constantly. We make changes every week. Why Cadence: Agility
  21. 21. Focus meetings on decisions and actions
  22. 22. 1-1’s are your #1 management tool Find out what is happening at your company. Ask about career direction and interest. Test out ideas. Do them with peers and skip levels, too.
  23. 23. Sample Company Meeting Agenda
  24. 24. The “Operating System” isn’t just these individual events. It’s how they all work together.
  25. 25. Exec meeting Team meetings Company meeting One on ones Decisions Guidance Priorities Assignments Decisions Issues Feedback Reactions Coaching 26 Connect Motivate Inform
  26. 26. Cadence Plan Transparency Three Big Ideas
  27. 27. OKRs? V2MOMs? GSOs? MBOs?
  28. 28. Keep it simple Focus on a small number of goals Cross-departmental goals
  29. 29. Example Plan
  30. 30. Board meeting Present plan to company Company replan Quarterly Planning Cadence Mid-quarter tweaks Run the company on the new plan
  31. 31. Using the plan Exec team meeting Team meetings One-on-ones Weekly release Forecast call Customer readout Mon Tue Wed ThuFri Company meeting
  32. 32. Cadence Plan Transparency Three Big Ideas
  33. 33. Transparency Everyone at the company should share all useful information about your business with each other.
  34. 34. Confidential 35
  35. 35. Why Transparency Team - good people want to be treated like adults Learning - people want to learn and need the info Motivation - people want to know their work matters Relationships - people trust and get along better Decisions - good information == good decisions Velocity - people can execute without execs
  36. 36. Cadence and Transparency Exec team meeting Team meetings One-on-ones Weekly release Forecast call Customer readout Mon Tue Wed ThuFri Company meeting
  37. 37. All data and communications are public
  38. 38. Bake transparency into the culture Lead by example: ask lots of questions and share lots of info. Expect everyone to do the same, especially managers. Be on the lookout for people who are keeping information private and give feedback.
  39. 39. Planning to make sure you are working on the right things Transparency to keep people informed, productive and motivated Cadence to keep people in sync, making decisions, and executing
  40. 40. ✓ Wildly talented people ✓ Who get along ✓ Working hard ✓ On the right things ✓ Adjusting as they learn
  41. 41. Your employment cycle Your product cycle Your deal cycle Your customer cycle Other things we could have talked about
  42. 42. Keep tuning and tweaking it It changes as you grow Don’t stop when it gets tough Final thoughts
  43. 43. Thanks Michael Wolfe Advisor, Point Nine michael@pointninecap.com

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