Organisation Design in Startups
Though every start-up has its own unique needs, today and tomorrow, every start-up needs to take care of the basics. It is very common that startup founders overlook organization design related decisions even though some of these are a key to success in scaling and for their long term strategy.
Organisation design (HR calls it OD or Org design 😊)
Organisation design is an output of a well-designed fit-for-purpose operating model.
Who will report to whom?
How will teams and sub-teams be structured?
Who does what?
No, you don’t need to have a full-fledged organizational structure in place when you start your business. You may not even know how things will progress in the next 12 months.
When a startup is small, a Founder’s focus obviously in not on roles and work processes. It’s about getting things done. And besides, early on, everyone pitches in to do whatever needs to be done without thinking through org design or structure.
However, once a startup scales up to 30 employees or more, there needs to be a structure to the workflow to work efficiently.
Fit for purpose structure
A fit-for-purpose structure document to get started, assists you with current and future decisions related to planning whether from a full time hire side or on the freelance side.
You do need an HR expert with expertise in Organization Design (OD) to help you plan your structure, ensure it’s in line with your growth plans, with clear accountability and supported enough to deliver on key deliverables.
Though you need to get the basics right, you will need more than the old fashioned operating model. Or the traditional ways of working or tacking new roles, structures, or technology on old frameworks.
You need an approach that goes beyond redesigning processes or even experiences, to work outcomes that matter.
What to incorporate in your organisation design
Here are two simple ways to incorporate efficient market elements into your org design:
1. Make your organisation structure flexible.
Be flexible about the roles and focus more on the skills you need and at which stages of growth.
2. Make your organisation structure project and team-based.
Plan your structure around deliverables and projects than around areas of expertise (such as marketing, digital, and operations).
This allows employees to work better as such a set up boost productivity and innovation.
Organizational design doesn’t stop at structure.
But organizational design doesn’t stop at structure. Structure, strategy, people, reward systems, and internal network design are as important. McKinsey’s 7S adds style and company goals to the mix.
The reasoning is that all of those are interconnected – any change in strategy needs new talent, new ways to reward the people, and new set of objectives and goals.
Org design sheds clarity as well on how people collaborate, communicate and make decisions. It creates a framework on who can start a project, pull a team and assign tasks to each team members.
No matter how small the team is, creating clarity around those points makes it easier to focus on the work on hand.
Different startups approach org design in different ways.
- Zappos abandoned hierarchy in favor of managed chaos – they use Holacracy. Holacracy is a predefined set of rules, processes, and guidelines. The organization can use those to help become self-managed and self-organized. This gives every employee the power to innovate, make changes, and have a voice.
- Buffer operate as a horizontal business – two principles guide them:
Self-management they believe there is a way for the whole company to manage itself. As a result, they no longer have any managers within the company.
Wholeness which is the belief that you should bring your full self to work. When you do, then you will be happier and the company will benefit from the full skills everyone has.
You need to reimagine work—within HR and across the business.
- Reimagine work by unpacking it
- Augment it with technology and alternative talent
- Creating new channels
- Elevate the role people play by refocusing on driving measurable outcomes.
Make sure you see the right advice though.
Organisation design (OD) experts can be reached out to virtually to assist. Those experts, if engaged permanently, come with a hefty price tag, and will not have enough work to keep them engaged.
Make it much easier to reach out to an OD specialist on-demand to help set you up. Have a:
- A clear brief on your strategy
- Short to mid-term plans
- Clear people budget
- Current structure even if informal
- Key workflows from a performance and measure perspective
- As well as your business readiness to go to the next stage,
Eager to learn more on your own – here’s a Playbook to set your business up for success. It provides you with the needed structure to ensure focus on accountability, productivity, and to build a place where people can do their best work.