Updated: Apr 22
Scaleups are at a distinct, pivotal moment of a company’s journey. This is often triggered by an injection of funding to propel the organizations’ growth and development. This means that the stakes are high, and the data shows us that success is not guaranteed; approximately 75% of venture-backed companies end up failing to provide any ROI.
There are many reasons for this, but one of them is the inability of these organizations, that have successfully gone from 0 to 1, to put in place the right ways of working to go from 1 to 100.
One way to ensure scaleups navigate this crucial period is to help set solid foundations upon which they can grow. That’s where we come in. We work with leaders of distributed scaleups to help set up the structure, processes, systems, and culture they need to set their teams up for success. In this article, we share a few common pain points we’ve observed, and how we tackle them, together.
Challenge #1: No shared understanding of culture
When a team grows by 33%, complexity in alignment grows by 400%. This data point is one we refer to often as it captures one of the most basic challenges scaleups face; misalignment. As a company grows and new people join, we see a decrease in alignment and misinterpretations of culture.
“Culture inevitably changes as teams and companies scale, because whenever an organization brings in new people, they bring their culture with them”, said Tariq Saiduddin, CTO of Zension Technologies Inc. in one of our Centaur Stage episodes. With every new colleague, it becomes more and more important to ensure that we maintain and make explicit company culture and a clear and defined way of interacting. Overcoming this challenge helps these organizations become more productive and more capable of adapting to evolving markets.
At Cosmic Centaurs, we believe that clarifying company purpose & values is the perfect way to create this alignment and build the base upon which culture grows. Values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a company’s actions. They serve as the cultural cornerstones of the organization along with virtues, the behaviors that when exhibited reflect the values.
We help scaleups shape and communicate their values, and engage employees around them, making the associated virtues explicit and helping employees develop a shared understanding of how to interact and engage with each other.
With one regional tech company, we worked with leaders to define the purpose, values and virtues before designing and hosting workshops with the entire organization animating exercises and facilitating meaningful discussions about values, and how teams can live them out. If this sounds like something your organization can benefit from, book a one-on-one with us to learn more.
Challenge #2: Communication breakdown
For scaleups, this is no small loss, particularly when their teams are distributed. While in small teams, it’s relatively easy to make sure everyone has received a message, as organizations grow having an internal communication strategy is key to creating alignment.
For scaleups in specific, we develop strategic internal communication strategies and work with the internal teams to establish the internal comms function. This includes developing the relevant messaging, activating new channels, updating templates, and creating content. As with all missions, we set up the relevant tools to measure the impact of internal comms, helping teams learn how to iterate based on the data collected to drive better organizational alignment.
Challenge #3: Teams don’t know where to find information
On average, employees spend an average of around 9.3 hours a week trying to find documents. Poor documentation can be very costly for scaleups. In distributed settings, it’s even more imperative to ensure there is explicit clarity on how employees are expected to store and share information.
Having an asynchronous mindset and being obsessive about great documentation is the way to go with scaleups (and organizations of all sizes, really). We help them accomplish that by (re)organizing shared drives, creating naming conventions, and setting up wikis or tools such as Confluence. We also host ‘spring cleaning parties’ to help the team build these habits and clarify any questions about documentation. In doing so, we save employees of scaleups hours, enabling them to spend time and energy on value creation rather than searching for information. Book a one-on-one with us if your organization needs help with documentation!
Challenge #4: Getting people up to speed quickly
20% of employees leave organizations within two months if they have a bad onboarding experience. For scale-ups, timing is everything, and losing the investment and knowledge that goes with each departing employee is costly. On another hand, scaleups also need to make sure that the many people they are hiring can create value from their initial days. This requires these new joiners to develop organizational knowledge, that is, the implicit and explicit knowledge employees can use to reach the organization’ objectives (for example, any knowledge gained from working with customers or attending conferences).
When helping scaleups create their onboarding journey, we begin by speaking to a few new joiners and others to learn what they would have liked in the onboarding process and what would help new joiners acclimate quickly into the organization. We then work with teams to design an onboarding experience that prioritizes the information employees need to hit the ground running.
Challenge #5: Communicating their strategy clearly and ensuring the entire organization is working towards it
Scaleups usually have clearly defined business goals, particularly if they completed a round of pitching for funding. While they may know where they want to be, there are so many elements of growth to be considered.
We help scaleups develop strategies that meet their business objectives, and work with their team leaders to translate this strategy into goals and initiatives related to their specific department or teams.
Across the board, our interventions are based on our 4-step approach and they range in scale and size. From upskilling middle managers, to setting up the relevant infrastructure and process, to helping you document and communicate your strategy to your employees, to enabling a cohesive organizational culture, we can help your scaleup succeed.
If you’re a scaleup struggling with any of the five areas of organizational strategy below, book a one-on-one consultation with us. Cosmic Centaurs can help you create the right environment for your organization to thrive.