… is when you are still small. That is when implementing process is easier and less risky. In the growth phase of the organization, business leaders get overly obsessed with growth (numbers, targets, team size etc.) without thinking how growth will be sustained (culture, processes, tools). The more you wait for your processes to be defined, the more damage it does. It is difficult (and costly) to implement process after you have attained a certain size – for two reasons:
Implementation takes more time, more training, more people, more friction and hence more costs.
Implementing processes is less about implementing robotic procedures and more about forming habits and changing the culture of the organization.
The bigger problem: In absence of processes, people will work according to their “personal” process (which is based on their past experiences). What may be “right” for one person may be absolutely absurd for the another – because they see things through their own personalized lenses. This also happens when dealing with customers, managing people and approaching the work. There is a lot of disparity between performances of teams – and most of the time, performances of teams are governed by who is managing the team (and who all are a part of the team). Success is largely a result of individual heroism.
As a start-up business, you need to think about your processes when you are still small. When habits are still forming. When culture is still taking a shape. That is where, processes help you shape the culture and mindset of your core team. Thinking of processes while you are still small may sound little overwhelming for a moment – but if you take a long term view, the benefits are obvious. (Isn’t leadership all about taking a long term view?)
Bottom line: Have processes as an integral part of your business plan – even before you start up. If you want to build a sustainable and high-performance organization, you cannot ignore the power of processes. Processes help you build a culture on a long run.