How to scale your teams to create effective growth.
Herry Wiputra is the CTO of Campaign Monitor, also known as the "Apple of email marketing". While they've enjoyed exponential growth, they’ve had their hiccups too, including unwieldy code that took a long time to update. He shares how his role shaped their team structure and has helped create scalable growth.
How do you scale?
The first thing to remember, Herry said, is that the most important thing is to be responsive to change – you need to be able to adapt to change quickly. How do you create a team structure that facilitates that? Herry gave us five areas which you can work on.
What do you need in terms of culture? You need something flexible, where people know each other and can comfortably communicate. You need a system that bypasses outdated ideas of hierarchy and instead embraces a system where the value of each contributor is understood and used.
When it comes to managers, you need people who are willing to facilitate learning and inspire their team members – not people who just come up with ideas and expect others to execute.
The conventional wisdom is that you should hire the most intelligent people, right? But Herry suggests a different set of criteria. It doesn’t matter how intelligent someone is if they won’t work within a team. You need to look for people who are willing to step outside of their own competencies and teach and learn from others. People who can not just cooperate, but collaborate with others. You need what he calls “T-shaped people”.
In other words, don’t employ people who just want to do their own thing. They won’t be willing to work in the kind of environment you need to create a responsive, flexible team.
You need to get rid of teams which are focused on areas like “design” or “development”. Instead, you need teams which combine all of these roles – cross-functional teams with members who complement each other, so that they can work on a problem together. And instead of a separate quality assurance team, you need to make everyone accountable for their work. “Quality is the responsibility of everyone,” Herry says.
You also need to think about your process. Does everyone know what everyone else is doing? Is it clear what the purpose of the work is and what the key results you need are? Something like a Kanban board for each individual will help focus their priorities, increase transparency and get everyone working towards the same goals.
Herry quotes Conway’s law: “Any organisation that designs a system will inevitably produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organisation’s communication structure.”
In other words, if you have an unwieldy, hierarchical structure, then that’s the kind of system you’re stuck with. He challenges us to think differently.
· Refresh your company structure. Get cross-functional individuals working in cross-functional teams to see the best results.
· Manage effectively. Don’t set up a hierarchy of management - make small effective teams who inspire and encourage each other, and where managers are a part of the team.
· The structure of your organization will be reflected in the product. If your hierarchical structure is difficult to navigate, then your product will be the same. Renewing your company structure is not a dead end: it’ll help renew your product as well.