Back to Insights

Maturing your unicorn startup through operational excellence

We all know what it feels like when things are running according to plan.

Operational excellence is the key to efficiency, productivity and overall performance within an organization and leads to better employee wellbeing, increased profitability, and a more competitive position in the market. The easiest place to start is examining your rhythm of business (ROB).

There are tons of opportunities that can result from ROB initiatives. At their core, they can drive the business, grow & scale talent, improve organizational health, and promote cross-organization collaboration.

Another rich value area comes through helping your team prioritize.

Inversely, when an organization lacks a synchronous rhythm of business, the impact is widespread and hard to ignore. Side effects can include stress, burnout, and misalignment.

One accomplished Chief of Staff we worked with joined a $200 billion software company that lacked a foundational operating model. Their rhythm of business lacked synchrony, which over time led to the side effects mentioned above.

To solve for these larger issues, Sparklos worked with her to optimize core rhythms, implement new comms processes & standards, and refine & align OKRs.

The plan for getting the organization’s house in order included:

Through core internal rhythms alone, optimization efforts saved the organization’s leader 6 meeting hours monthly and streamlined 14 scattered, ad hoc meetings into 4 efficient review meetings. Through these efforts, the marketing org became a leader in operational excellence whose rhythm, processes, and templates were sourced across the company.

It may be obvious that teams & organizations benefit from operational excellence through an internal rhythm of business, but where do you start?

The best exercise to get going is to document a desired state. Think about what operational excellence would look like for your personal workflow, your team, and your organization. Below is an example of what your list may consist of:

Once you’ve documented an end state, you can start to map initiatives that support the change needed to reach it. We’ll outline two of the most common initiatives below.

1️⃣ Clarify & focus on priorities

Goal: Build, test, and refine OKR-centered scaffolding for training accountability & world class execution muscles.

Leadership Team: Focus on our most important OKRs

Rest of org: Drive alignment within your orgs against priority OKRs

It’s rare for teams to reach optimal operational excellence without first aligning on priorities. By doing so, your team will be one step closer to a synchronous ROB.

2️⃣ Streamline your calendar

Goal: Create an internal ROB that snaps to & supports key priorities.

It’s only natural for team calendars to get cluttered over time. Weeding calendars is a great first step in getting a hold on your ROB.

Note: This is typically a task that can be assigned to a business manager or executive assistant.

  1. Analyze leader’s calendar by reviewing every recurring invite on their schedule to determine need & value.
  1. Interview your LT. They’re a great source of knowledge about what is a valuable use of time, what gaps exists, and what can be removed.
  2. Determine which meetings should be removed, reassigned, or consolidated.
    1. For leader’s meetings this step could mean you are deleting invites, or assigning ownership to a member of your LT moving forward. The key is to ensure that every meeting is high-value with clear objectives.
    2. For team meetings this step could introduce a sacred review cadence to ensure all recurring team meetings are streamlined, predictable, and valuable. We’ve seen this step be a driver towards rigorous, high-value monthly business reviews.
  3. Determine which meetings can be converted into a team communication or asynchronous task.
  4. Make sure there is a socket for the inevitable ad hoc requests. This could be the MBRs we mentioned above, or a sacred weekly review that empowers teammates to sign-up for short slots to get facetime with their leader. Having space built into your ROB for these types of requests will ensure calendars stay streamlined & preditable moving forward.
  5. Make sure every recurring meeting now has a stated objective and accessible agenda. Depending on your organization, these may live directly on the calendar invite, or could link to an internal wiki.

There are so many opportunities in front of operational excellence initiatives. Start small with our two recommendations above and see how far you & your team can go!

Back to Insights