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A project-driven company

Every company knows if it is providing a useful service, (according to a data-driven philosophy to create the highest value it can), and what makes a team and how it should be managed. But there is one question remaining: Is a data-driven philosophy enough to accomplish the vision, respecting the company values?

The answer is simple: No. 

Since it could have multiple teams, a startup can develop its product, service, and external activities in many ways. By this time the correct choice is the data-driven philosophy. But, this external philosophy or the company values are not enough to define the internal company processes.

To sustain the company values, structure, and objectives an internal working philosophy has to be defined. The best concept here is the project-driven company. 

The project-driven philosophy is to consider everything the startup teams are working with as a project. So, every action taken internally is a project to accomplish or to help accomplish (with other company projects) the startup objectives.

It is a common mistake to focus on startup projects only in the product development phase. This philosophy considers everything in a project—for example, the summer marketing campaign launch, hiring a new tech member, and the new product feature upgrade. 

We have defined this startup culture to reach this single moment. Everything is ready to make it possible for the company to work in a project-driven way. And, without actually saying it, we have already explained how it will work.

When we analyze how to properly define the company’s objectives and goals, we talk about different actions that must be taken to accomplish monthly objectives. These objectives help to accomplish the startup annual objectives, and the annual objectives help to accomplish the final company goals. These actions are the projects the company has to develop to reach its monthly, annual, and final objectives.

There are many ways to create a project-driven company. Following this article, every project should be proposed for any startup member. This proposal should be studied by the management and financial team. Its approval makes the project viable and it is sent to the PMO.

The PMO is a transversal company area that provides, controls, and maintains resources and results to every project in the startup. It is the area that will create the proper team to develop the project.

How are these teams composed? As we have already discussed,  with our team’s structures and processes the startup is ready to work internally in a project-driven way and following the intelligence of a data-driv en development philosophy.

Does having a well-defined company with processes, structure, and objectives make a startup a startup? Is it not an old-fashioned company?

Of course not, because everything that has been established for the company has respected the main AGILE values: Efficiency, Flexibility, Scalability, and Transparency.

Even so, what is the master concept of this company development? Is it Agility? The master concept behind creating a startup is always Innovation.

Innovation as a culture, even in bad times

Companies should think very carefully about innovation in a startup environment. Innovation is not about creating the most high-tech product and to sell it in your company. Several startups have become unicorns without having any patent or creating difficult engineering processes. 

To innovate in a company is to re-think the way something is done and to adapt it to be more efficient, beneficial, sustainable, and scalable. Increasingly, every company is working for the society and these values, which match with the AGILE values that have been defined in the article, are ruling company success. 

Innovation can be developed through many different concepts: Product development, internal processes design, or team management.

There is a well-known assumption that innovation requires a lot of financial investment and this is not really true.

To innovate or not to innovate—this is not the task that makes a company different from its competitor. Every company has to innovate to remain competitive. The tough decision is to choose the right timing and type of innovation that a company needs in each moment. 

Every innovation is developed by the company team, so, a good first step would be to promote the internal approval of the team.

However, there might be another step previous to the implantation of disruptive innovation in a company. It is very advisable to start with the people management or leadership. This is how a company culture can be implanted in their own teams before bigger steps are taken. Although innovation in team management could represent, if badly done, a critical situation, it can be a cheaper way to innovate and to promote company branding without changing products or identity.

In crisis days, like those we are in now, a startup should be opening commercial opportunities to differentiate itself from its competitors by finding opportunities in the crisis threats. However, it should stay focused on providing the services and products it provided before. It is not a good time for external innovation.

Internal innovation is a great choice to create value internally and externally in difficult moments.

According to an “El Economista” study, (https://www.eleconomista.es/opinion-blogs/noticias/10121257/10/19/La-innovacion-se-vende-primero-en-casa-sin-el-apoyo-de-los-empleados-el-cambio-es-imposible.html), 92% of Spanish companies are improving digitization and management style in 2020 after the COVID-19 situation was known.

When a company does not have the right amount of money or the right marketing situation to grow, branding and identity is the best commercial partner.

Let’s look at an example of this process developed by the Spanish startup CHECKTOBUILD. They have decided to face the COVID-19 situation with internal innovation in their company management processes. Specifically, they have identified the concept of Leadership as the most important one in the internal and external branding in crisis time and as a result, they have developed the following management process: PAIR LEADERSHIP 

Pair Leadership is a management methodology that replicates the operative tasks of the “Pair programming” software development strategy (in the XP framework) in the management area. Every area of the Company will be led by two people. When making decisions and taking on management responsibilities, the responsible human resource can take advice from an equal and objective observer for every decision.

These two roles in every department will be switched between the two people for every project. It will be their own decision, knowing their motivation for the project. An innovation like this creates value around the concept of Leadership, the last vital issue in an AGILE culture. Every new hire in a company area means that an experienced employee will be the leader of the new one in terms of Pair Leadership.

Responsibility is spread over many roles in the company, making each team member fundamental to running the company properly. And, the most important thing here, is that each team member knows its responsibility. 

The concept of Mob Responsibility is becoming fundamental to the success of a startup and it is so easy to implement.

AGILE as a culture, not only as a methodology 

As we now see, to be an innovative tech startup is not only to sell something new to the market and to manage its processes—it is to improve the value of your market, hugging technology as a partner and not only as a tool; to know that the company culture is as important as the service it provides; to be AGILE, dynamic, ready to change…and to create a strong identity through current AGILE values. 

People are not resources anymore, people are the key to company success.