Growing your startup

Separation of responsibilities

One of the biggest challenges in a fast-growing company is that you’re in a constant mode of re-organization – or at least it feels like this way. People become teams, teams become departments. Roles and responsibilities are in constant flux and that in itself creates tension inside the organization as I wrote before.
Another aspect is how to structure you’re organization. When does a team becomes a team? What does that team do?
An important guideline for me is to create teams with opposing goals to create a healthy tension inside the organization with regard to how to reach particular strategic and tactical goals.
To give a simple example, Finance’s goal is to keep spending in check and within budgets while Engineering wants to hire more developers and increase spending on cloud services.
It’s healthy for any organization to have those discussions and it works better when those discussions are not a single person’s head. Everyone has bias and by separating responsibilities you can bring those decisions out in the open.
When you’re scaling your organization and thinking about organization structure, it is good to keep that goal in mind. Often it is not even about throwing more bodies towards a problem, but being smart about roles and responsibilities. Open discussion between teams with opposing goals often leads to better decision making. It forces each team to articulate and push for the best possible outcome.
The one thing you do have to watch out for are compromises for the sake of compromises. This a typical problem with large corporations where decisions by committee become the norm. This is a cultural problem and not an organizational one. Running a business involves a certain amount of risk-taking. Separation of responsibilities does not preclude risk-taking.

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