Organizing your start-up business in an efficient way

By Georg Tichy


For startups concentrating on new product development, the first idea is the minimal viable product. When a market need is identified, the minimal viable product that can meet that need is developed. And then the product is further refined and developed by using crowdsourced feedback.

Gathering actionable metrics means the product is tested in small ways by a wide variety of people, and their feedback is solicited. When the Drumi was being perfected, after their successful Kickstarter campaign, they gave prototypes to people doing their wash. Detailed interviewing after use showed that the majority really liked the machine, but suggested a carrying handle. When people across the world, in Africa and Canada, both suggested a carrying handle would make the machine easier to use, the developers went back to the factory and redeveloped the prototype to include a handle. This change delayed shipment of their first production run by nearly six months, but they detailed the process and the changes on their website, so those who are eagerly awaiting their new Drumi will probably check out the new handle as soon as they open the box.

The goal of a startup is to develop a sustainable business by developing a product, making money, or meeting a service need. In the current business environment, agility is the key to this sustainability. Using metrics to measure feedback early during product development is the first step in startup development.

However if we think about organizational structure for a start-up, a new structure is needed that can adapt to rapid change. This could be done with a triangle working group model, designed to bring the strength of a geodesic dome to business structures.

When Buckminster Fuller developed the model for the geodesic dome, he was developing a structure build on a small number of forms- triangles, mostly, that could sustain pressure from various angles. A geodesic dome can withstand winds, snow loads, earthquakes, because a disruption or pressure on one part is absorbed throughout the unit by transferring the stress along the individual units- the triangles.

Now, picture a work unit of three, charged with overseeing the outsourced finance, payroll, and regulatory compliance departments. Decisions can be made at the unit or recommendations sent upstairs; members of the team can rotate or stay the same; members of individual units can also participate on other teams, such as production or safety, with a new three person work group.

This model gives an employee several unique experiences and skills, and allows them to be able to move knowledgeably into a new area outside of their usual area of expertise. It also keeps employees from becoming stagnant or bored, and allows them to participate in growing a company in a way that engenders engagement and loyalty.

Many employees leave to start their own venture, because they need a seat at the table, the freedom to explore and experiment. Building these unquantifiable variables into the organizational structure, allowing employees to explore and help grow the company, may give a new business a workforce that is agile, experienced, able to rapidly adjust to disruptive change, and loyal to the business.

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