I used to do my task management almost exclusively in my email inbox. All the stuff I had open or running at a time would be represented by an email in the inbox, and I know pretty much what I had to do to keep track of my stuff. Over the course of my almost three years at DuMont Venture, I developed a system of folders and subfolders that I could very effectively use to be on top of everything.
This was pretty easy, because when I started at DuMont, there was nothing. We built the company up from scratch, so all of the processes and workflows were created by ourselves. We had loads of processes in parralel, but the experience and build up made it possible to manage.
Lots of new stuff is hard to manage in old ways
Now, after my switch to Seedcamp, it’s different: Seedcamp is a really fast moving organization with a whole lot of different things to keep abreast of. Not only are there almost monthly mini events that require pretty meticulous planning (each event with about 120 different people), there is the year-long run up to Seedcamp week in September, a huge network of people that need to be informed and managed, and a pile of investors that want to know what’s going on. I was thrown in the middle of it and had to know which way to run once I hit the ground. This requires a really different way of going about self-organization.
So, without really noticing, I started devising processes for all of the single task groups that I have to manage. This was necessary to replicate the results across similar things like the different events. So basically, I am focusing on finding replicable structures, to make it easy to get used to the new setup. I found it hard to hand over my last job to someone else – too much of it was implicit and learned, not much of it was an actual process. It is really hard to turn a grown structure into something scalable.
Why should you care about my to-do list?
Because it is a key challenge in startups: staying flexible and agile enough in the beginning to work with a small group of generalists and moving towards a replicable and scalable structure in the long term to get enough speed on the ground to grow fast. You can observe this every time: Open up a new branch in a store network, start a new product line, or add someone to your customer service team: You need to stay flexible enough to make quick decisions, yet you need to have a process in place to hand over the work to someone else. It’s difficult and most people have failed at least once. If you did fail, however, this will be burnt into your brain and you will do everything to prevent it from happening again.
Yes, pivoting is not only necessary to find a working business model, it is also very important to grow your company or “personal scalability”. Because making stuff up on the go isn’t very scalable. i will report back once I have found the holy grail to this. I am trying to find it between mind maps, my email tagging system, and a notebook. If you have an idea, let me know.