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  • Writer's pictureChrista Dhimo, Impono LLC

The Start-Up Corner: Org Design Creates Value Too

"But we're a small company-- a start up !! Values are so corporate...."

"We don't really need to go through that exercise-- we know our values and we need to get going..."

"Well, anyone who doesn't share our values simply isn't a good fit. It's that simple, and we'll know it when we see it. Let's not make this complicated."




Time and time again, through the history of natural law, functional (and dysfunctional) families, military successes or failures, and community wins, one core element turns the gears from slow speed to regular speed to high speed without the wheels falling off, and that is a sharing of clear, easily understood, observable core values that bond the unit together.


Yes, I know. It's mushy stuff. It's hard to do. It may feels like a waste of time when there's so much at stake.

Yet core values shape the foundation and set the tone for your culture, and for those of us who have been involved in multiple companies across several industries, we all know that culture drives performance. Not goals. Not leadership. Not product. Culture.

Founders and early-set CEOs must have a power team for start-up:

* A killer Lawyer who is your first vendor and ultimately your best-start-up friend. Your start-up Lawyer will assure you stay within the rails for agreements, financials (seeding, Series A and leading up to Series B), patents, regulations, etc. Law firms

* A crazy Finance person-- and they crazier then better, as long as the credentials are solid (crazy Finance types typically have a Financial Planning & Analysis background vs an Accounting background). This Finance person should be able to help you with the early stages of planning, performance and alignment.

* Your Investor-- who should be "in it to win it," giving sound advice related to the Value of your Company (stay clear from Investors who want to run your business for you-- their role, like everyone else's role in a start-up, is very specific). Value, value, value. What builds value? That is why your Investor(s) is or are so important.

* Your Key Talents: those that are deemed critical for your start-up, usually related to IP (Discovery, Development), Customers, and Compliance... and

* An Organizational Design and Development Guru.

(screech!! Er, WHAT?)

Yes, that's right. You heard me (and I saw your eye roll). OK-- wait, hear me out. I'm just like you, and I've been there too. For those of us who have been to the top of the mountain, we all know this is the hardest and quite often the most critical aspect of any business, so why wouldn't you add this to your foundational team?

As part of your rock star line up for your rock star start-up, you will bring someone on board who see the world in terms of talent and organizational behavior so that you can create the best and most scalable org design with the right strategic structure that aligns the legal, financial and future investment.


The Organizational Design Matters. A Lot.

Too often we have seen the leader of a start-up take the Org Design piece on all by herself or himself to the utter detriment of growth after the proof of concept is done, usually between Series A and B funding. Org Design includes your most important aspect of Execution: the people.

Your lawyer is worth his or her weight in gold if you discuss founders agreements, your legal entity, IP, and the basics that will enable a clean launch with the right support so you don't run into trouble later on. This adds to your value.

Your finance person will align the sales and operations, will enable you to model your business, will let you roam freely in the land of "What If's" and then bring you back to "What now?" within moments of each other.

But without the right org design and talent plan, all you have are the basic building blocks of a business without any of the mortar that actually builds it, nurtures it, puts heart and soul into it. OR, you go it alone and end up with the basic building blocks with the wrong mix of mortar that cannot handle the extra weight of new blocks, crumbles with bad weather, doesn't keep the cold out and ultimately damages your house.

We've all been there. You cannot possibly argue about this, but please, please argue if you must.


Organizational Design Changes Before Your Business Does. That's How Important It Is.

The truth of the matter is that the org design and development aspect of an organization is often the hardest part of your foundation.

It requires a genuine care about who you bring on board vs the "throw money at consultants" that often comes into the fray in early stage start-ups.

It requires you to understand the drivers of your business in a way that relates to people vs product. It requires patience and a conceptual belief that the people you bring on board (and when, and within what kind of consistent compensation and benefits plan) are actually the ones driving your business-- not you.

If you do this piece properly from the beginning, you will find your ability to dial up your speed and impact, performance and value at a level that can accelerate based on how your employees drive your business (not you).

Tell us: what else could drive more value than that?

We know that launching a new or transforming an existing organization isn't simple, but it can be easier with the right advisors and doers. If you have additional questions about this topic or how it can impact your business, contact us. Let's see what we can do for you.

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