As a company grows, there’s a balancing act between creating necessary and unnecessary process. Speed is a primary advantage for startups. The short lag time between idea and implementation can lead to rapid innovation, and, hopefully, success.
Undo deliberation and bureaucracy – often in the forms of strategic plans, polished analysis, and repetitive meetings – are for larger organizations who are content to move slowly to safeguard against risk. Startups, meanwhile, often prize speed over stability. As per Mark Zuckerberg’s famous mantra:
“Move fast and break things.”
Somewhere along the way, however, this stops being a good idea. (For Facebbook, its yearslong PR debacle about disinformation serves as a case in point.)
And sometimes, as in our market for mission-critical compliance software, it was never the right way to go. Accuracy, stability, security, and performance are non-negotiable.
Still, there were a number of areas – outside of software reliability – within Gain’s operations which were fairly casual – for example around strategy, planning, and hiring. Looking up after four years, it’s interesting to see process and procedure formalized as the degrees of operational complexity grow.
This friction – in the form of checkpoints and documented procedures – is a sign of a maturing organization that is compromising speed for predictability. The key is balancing the tradeoff – the extent to which process is necessary, valuable, and appropriate for the company’s life stage.