One of the core tenets of a first time founder is being responsive to the idea that there is a aircraft carrier’s worth of things you don’t know about building a fast growth organization. But perhaps even more jarring is the delta between the expected and actual importance of certain components of a business.
One of those is organizational design.
Contactually long eclipsed the two-pizza rule
where we just had “someone” doing marketing, “someone” doing sales, etc. So teams naturally formed. I initially thought the transition would be relatively straightforward – you have a marketing team, a sales team, etc…
I’ve come to understand that it’s not just that teams are set up, but HOW teams are set up, is perhaps one of the most critical tasks.
Some of the questions that come up:
- What are their inputs and outputs?
- How do they interact with other teams?
- Who leads them, and how?
- Within the team, how are people structured in relation to each other?
- What is the right level of managerial oversight/meddling?
- And, the punchline to all of these… is it working?
The worst part – there is no right answer. There are some general accepted best practices, none established dogma. Cloning something else verbatim doesn’t work, as you don’t have the same people or company goals.
We’re mostly in good shape. In part due to the lack of intensive thinking and planning upfront around team structure, and in part due to under/over-reaction, we’ve made many mis-steps here. Moving forward, we’ve started paying a lot more attention to how these teams are structured.