As I mentioned in the previous post about growing pains, one regular pattern seen when growing past 50 people is the shift from direct communication to processes.
While it is easy to believe that processes could solve communication and vision challenges, this is seldom the case.
Hey there! You are not following the process!
Sure, we could always point at the process and say “Hey there! You are not following the process!“ And hope that your colleagues changes behavior, but that usually has no long lasting effects, especially when there is a believe that “what got us here, will take us there”.
There is a reason a company succeeds and grows, and it is probably credited with founders’ core values. Customer-centric, adaptability, collaboration, deep technical skills, “we can do it”-mentality to name just a few.
When these rather informal values go through the transformation to become documented processes a lot of agility and flexibility are lost on the way.
Rules and processes have a tendency to be absolute and we need a different way to move forward with our vision and at the same time have the opportunity to steer away from it temporarily when needed.
Similar to how the agile manifesto has values that captures both sides of an argument and favors one, so could a company capture its guidelines.
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more. - Agile Manifesto
Instead of writing a process around “Choice A versus Choice B” write guidelines with focus of picking one over the other, “Choice A over Choice B”. Making it easier transparent when we sidestep, but that is ok. Also making it easier to move forward on the vision.
Some examples of guidelines:
Similar to the agile manifesto, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
While there is value in formal processes, I value the agility in guidelines more.