As a CTO at any organization, scaling can prove to be a difficult challenge, especially during periods of high growth. These difficulties further compound when your company is in a hyper-growth phase, because you have to deal with changes in technologies, team structures, as well as the hiring process. Therefore, it is important to have a set framework and guidelines before embarking upon the scaling process. The best way to do this is to learn from those who’ve already done this in the past, such as the CTO’s of Slack, Peloton, and Glossier. Read on to get insights from them on how they formulated a sustainable strategy while avoiding pitfalls and still focusing on building an inclusive team.
Remaining Fast and Agile
As a tech executive, scaling will often require you to consider adopting new technologies and methods in your organisation. As it is, new technologies come out everyday, but as they say, you only have a limited number of innovation tokens. Therefore, it is important that you spend them wisely, by identifying aspects of your process that need improvements and updating them with newer and better alternatives.
In addition to this, it is important that you do not get married to a process. No matter how efficient a process is at a certain scale and how much time it took you to come up with it, you must always be willing to consider alternatives. With the exponential rate of growth, there will always be better processes that you can implement. A potential way of not getting attached to processes is to focus on the real challenge: solving customer problems, instead of looking at the processes. Once you do that, it will be much easier to change processes if you feel that it would better serve customers.
Ensure That You Have the Right Infrastructure
In the growth and hyper-growth stages, most CTOs realise that the best use of their time is not to focus on the technology but on the people of the organisation. Consequently, hiring employees is a huge part of the scaling process, and it is one you should be prepared for. As teams grow larger, modes of delegation need to become more branched out, therefore you need to ensure that your hiring process is also adaptable. A way to do this is to make a list of the questions you ask while interviewing for a particular job alongside your expected answers. This way, even if you aren’t able to conduct all the interviews yourself, you will still have candidates that align with your requirements.
In addition to this, it is also important for you to decide on your organisational structure and decide how you want to divide teams. Glossier prefers having small and focussed teams that have complete autonomy and expertise on solving one particular business problem, or improving a specific facet of the customer experience. These teams present their ideas, and they are allowed to go ahead with these ideas unless it “Isn’t good enough for now or safe enough to try”. This high level of autonomy alongside a specialised focus makes for much more productive and effective teams.
Final Words of Advice
As final words of advice, all the CTOs agreed that it was important for a company to have clearly defined and actionable core values that resonate with every employee. For example, a back-end developer might not see the relevance of a “customer service” value to their job, because they don’t see how their work affects customers. It is the responsibility of the managers to inculcate the values in the team from early on, so that the culture is set and then becomes an integral part of the workplace.
The same also applies to diversity and inclusion. From the very beginning, it is important to keep these factors in mind during the recruiting process, instead of it being an afterthought. Having a diverse and supportive team also means that the onus isn’t on new employees to promote these values in the workplace. This leaves them all free to maximise their potential and do their part in assisting the organisation with achieving its hypergrowth objectives.