🧩 Let’s talk about Organisational Design
🤔 Why you should care about it
“Systems survive one magnitude of growth” - Will Larson
Leaders create systems that generate the desired output autonomously in the most efficient way. When scaling, one of your primary responsibilities as CTO is to update team structures regularly, communication channels and processes to cope with the new realities of the organisation.
Any organisation going through hypergrowth realises that what worked with fewer team members doesn’t work anymore now that the team has grown: communication becomes more complex, velocity decreases, bugs increase, and frustration settles in.
Treating your organisation like a product (with users, problems, and solutions) allows you to monitor key metrics and update your design efficiently to generate your desired output.
💡 Key Concepts
Conway’s Law --> Organisations will design systems that copy their communication structure.
Systems Thinking --> A system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organised in a way that achieves something.
Theory of Constraints --> ToC is a methodology for identifying the most important limiting factor (i.e., constraint) in a system that stands in the way of achieving the desired output.
Small Autonomous Teams --> Small cross-functional, self-organised team with end-to-end responsibilities, working together towards their long-term mission.
📚 Top books
Thinking in Systems - Donella Meadows
Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow - Matthew Skelton, Manuel Pais
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement - Eliyahu M. Goldratt
Focusing too much on the HOW (the org structure) can sometimes lead to forgetting about the WHY (reasons to change org) and the WHAT (the desired output), resulting in org structures that generate team frustration and don’t produce the expected results.
Like any product, organisations can catch “pivotisis”, the disease of pivoting too frequently without giving enough time for a system to produce results.
📝 Inspiring content
Functional versus Unit Organizations - Steven Sinofsky
Steven Sinofsky, former President of the Windows division at Microsoft and now an investor, shares in this (long) post how to find the proper organisation for your team/company, using examples from multiple big tech companies
Productivity in the age of hypergrowth - Will Larson
Will Larson has gone through multiple hypergrowth situations at Uber and Stripe. In this post, he presents "productivity’s tortured relationship with engineering headcount" and how to manage entropy using Systems Thinking.
Failed #SquadGoals - Jeremiah Lee
One of the most famous engineering organisational models, the Spotify model, is not used anymore at Spotify. In this detailed post, former Spotify employee Jeremiah Lee explains why.