Designing Your Organization for
Designing Your Organization for 10x Impact
Aug 15, 2020
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Aug 15, 2020
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We cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs. — Bill Clinton
Once maybe in a lifetime comes across a company which has build something that impacts mostly everyone in their industry. Think of say Office365, StackOverflow, Gmail, DropBox which becomes a verb due to its sheer relevance & meaning in our lives.
Postman is a verb today. Period. Anyone today building, publishing & sharing API’s (Application Programming Interface ) are doing this on Postman. If not, they are doing it wrong. What Ankit, Abhinav & Abhijeet have build today is being used by millions of developers everyday across the globe. As if, it always existed in the first place. I being a programmer myself always have a Postman collection always open on my desktop. Bill Clinton will certainly be proud as Postman is building in real sense the future interface & plumbing of software systems.
0/11 — Setting the Context of the session
So, SaaSBoomi Build definitely ended with a bang. It was the last session kicked off by Founder & CTO of Postman — Ankit Sobti. Looking at his LinkedIn profile he had stints at Yahoo!, Adobe, Media.net in various engineering & product roles. The session titled “Designing your Organization for 10x Impact” was focused on two rules :
Rule #1: Build a proprietary technology that is 10x better. (we all know this)
Rule #0: Design an organisation that can build 10x better technology.
Here are my list of the top 11 key takeaways from the Ankit’s session titled
1/11 — Postman — The billion dollar
unicorn story from India
1/11 — Postman — The billion dollar unicorn
story from India
“Company budget, primary”.
“Company goals now and in the next 3 years”.
“Business model, you are in
Socio-political environment, an area that has increasingly become influential in decision-making”.
2/11 — Thinking organisation as a
product : 0–1, 1–10, 10–100 & Beyond
2/11 — Thinking organisation as a product : 0–1, 1–10, 10–100 & Beyond
3/11 — Designing your Organisation for
success is an Art
4/11 — Strategic Design : Values &
Communication as a force multiplier
4/11 — Strategic Design : Values & Communication as a force multiplier
5/11 — Strategic Design : Domain Driven
Design as a philosophy to build
6/11 — Strategic Design : Squads build
to execute like soldiers
Ankit mentioned about the psyche of cross-functional teams. The perfect analogy was of a soldier in a regiment with aligned goals, common codified values, accountable for end objective & always in auto-pilot.
He mentioned that these Squads are an outcome of a well-designed organisation. Stating these 9 core characteristics of a well build Squad.
1. Cross-Functional Mission Driven Teams
2. Squads are required to Own and Deliver
3. Squads are isomorphic with the Business Domain
4. Squads communicate using the same Ubiquitous Language
5. Squads are autonomous
6. Reduce cross team collaboration
7. Responsible for End user experience
8. Squads Win Together
9. Wouldn’t work without our Values.
7/11 — Tactical Design : OKRs, Strategy
& Visions as an alignment tool
7/11 — Tactical Design : OKRs, Strategy & Visions as an alignment tool
Ankit moved promptly to the tactical aspects of designing the organisation for 10x impact. He spoke passionately about the importance of alignment of teams with the over arching goals of the organisation.
3 key themes & toolkits emerged here :
OKR as a tooklit for alignment : A Tool to create alignment and engagement around measurable and ambitious goals. They are frequently set, tracked and re-evaluated — usually quarterly. OKRs are bidirectional — allow for top-down strategic goals to align with bottom-up tactical objectives
Championed by legendary John Doerr and build on top of Andy Grove’s bible on management. ( Read High Output Management ) it gives fast moving organisation alignment to the goals at hand.
Strategy Document as an approach to organisational problem solving : A theory describing the nature of the challenge & then identify policies that’ll be applied to address the challenge. Any strategy must be accompanied a set of specific actions directed by guiding policy to address challenges. A strategy is only meaningful if it leads to aligned action
Vision Document as the BHAG ( big hairy audacious goal ) : 1–2 sentence aspirational and inspirational statement. How will you be valuable to your users and your company? How will you make them better at their Job? What constraints are you limited by today? & the Future: what do you expect to be constrained by in the future?
He finally emphasized the founders present to deeply introspect on these 3 themes & toolkits to seek true alignment & lead teams towards consistent wins.
8/11 — Tactical Design : The Hiring
This was one of the most awaited of the parts of the talk which baffles every founder night & day. How do we find the right fit. He again in a true software methodology parlance gave the 4 stages of the teams. It was like Crossing the Chasm but meant for building teams. Geoff Moore would have been proud.
As teams move from falling behind to finally innovating. He reminded us that maybe each team may go through this chasm but founders need to super cognisant that their design impact should make sure this transition happens with time. Leading indicators need to be carefully monitored for long term success.
9/11 — Tactical Design : How does a
winning team looks like
Ankit spoke about the “Scope of Influence” as in how career progression of teams should automatically mimic these 3 characteristics :
As folks advance in their careers, their duties should encompass:
Complexity: a higher degree of complexity
Influence: the scope of their influence should expand
Impact: the contributions should become more impactful
He mentioned that it is important and a leaders’s job to define and make explicit the expected behaviors within the scope of influence for any given level
10/11 — Tactical Design : A culture of
learning & experimentation
10/11 — Tactical Design : A culture of learning & experimentation
Finally, Ankit touched upon that self-motivated winning team constantly keep learning, run experiments & measure it dispassionately.
At Postman he reflected 4 core skills takes precedence :
A culture that celebrates failure, solving the problem from the first principles, building continuous feedback loops of improvement & constantly shipping
11/11 — Closing Thoughts : Embrace
11/11 — Closing Thoughts : Embrace Constraints everyday
I am just going to verbatim state what Ankit says rather than interpreting it. That will be the perfect justice to his inspiring talk
Don’t replicate the what and how, without understanding the why
Embrace Constraints. Problem + Constraints → Solution
Experiment, measure, iterate.
Identify your unique context and your unique solution
Do not assume that you will get the same results with your different cultural foundation.
Systems survive one to two orders’ magnitude of growth. Identify the inflection points and be willing & ready to evolve.
Create with Curiosity and reward diversity and innovation.
Love the problem, not the solution.
Final Thoughts — Take a bow Postman !
“The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself…”
Postman — you will be celebrated, studied & quoted. In the words of J.R.R. Tokien you folks have opened a secret gate which many more will take the courage to open & walk.
That’s in a nutshell is the essence of designing your organisations for 10x impact !
All great books mentioned during the talk a consolidated list :
Start with Why — Simon Sinek
Building Microservices — Sam Newman
The Mythical Man Month — Brooks Jr.
Domain Driven Design — Eric Evans
High Output Management — Andy Grove
Measure what matters — John Doerr
Good Strategy Bad Strategy — Richard Rumelt
Inspired — Marty Cagan
Web Analytics 2.0 — Avinash Kaushik
Thinking in Systems — Donella Meadows
Thinking Fast Thinking Slow — Daniel Kahneman
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