One battle many Strategy and Operations leaders face as their companies grow is determining how to best introduce new processes and structure. This is especially true at early stage or high-growth companies where the company has found success operating with reduced oversight.
For many employees at earlier stage companies, part of the appeal of joining the company is the autonomy and nimbleness that comes with a company still figuring things out. Unfortunately, this can mean an uphill battle for Strategy and Operations leaders trying to introduce processes, because there is often a negative connotation associated with adding structure.
However, for many of the leading Strategy and Operations leaders we meet with today, they are reshaping the narrative and negative connotation often associated with adding process.
Our most recent guest on Aspiring Ops, Nancy Hang, is no stranger to the initial pushback that employees, and even founders, can have when presented with the idea of adding more structure. But as Nancy shares, while people aren’t always excited about new processes, every great organization is built around a core system of processes that can help elevate it to the next level.
With an incredible background in project management at companies like Google, Disney, and Mozilla, Nancy shares her journey into strategy and operations, and how her project management background helped lay the foundation for how she thinks about the role.
On this episode of Aspiring Ops, Nancy also provides practical advice on how to successfully introduce a foundation of process that can close gaps and accelerate growth for any company.
Throughout the interview, Nancy’s background in project management shines through with her advice and guidance for how to introduce structure. As she shares, adding processes for the sake of processes is never the right answer. However, when gaps are identified and opportunities uncovered to remove friction, then building the right processes can serve as a competitive advantage for companies.
Nancy shares three practical pieces of advice to help successfully introduce new structures.
1. Get buy-in across all levels: As you are preparing to introduce new processes, get feedback and input from all levels of the business. One of the most common attributes we’ve seen across Strategy and Operations leaders, especially in the Chief of Staff position, is the ability to build trust and work across every layer of the organization. Don’t lose sight of getting alignment from employees and teams, so that when it comes time to introduce a new structure, you have champions and advocates across the business.
2. Incremental roll out: False starts and failed roll outs of operating changes are one of the most common issues we see across companies. Far too often, companies try to do everything all at once. Rather than starting with a scaled approach to introducing change, they push forward with sweeping changes. This can cause confusion and expose cracks within the foundation of the processes that could have been avoided with a more measured approach.
3. Integrate Feedback: As you begin implementing changes to the existing way of doing things, don’t stick your head in the sand and tune out the noise. Embrace the feedback and be willing to fix potential issues that you might not have expected. As Strategy and Operations leaders, we are often asked to live and thrive in ambiguity. This means we won’t always have the complete picture or all the answers when making decisions. As we start to put together a more complete picture, we shouldn’t get stuck on our prior assumptions. Instead, we should be willing to accept feedback and course correct when we receive new information.
Heading into a new year, there will inevitably be changes to every business with new processes and structure being implemented to help the company achieve their goals. As Strategy and Operations leaders, we can’t lose sight of the practical advice that Nancy had to share.
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