From Corporate to Startup – Process Execution vs. Process Creation
Staying with the topic of my previous post, a small and a large company are different not only in terms of the number of colleagues but also the type of tasks and processes as well. During my studies at the university, I worked six months at a company of European scale and also six months at a global corporation, therefore I can use my personal experience to compare the types of tasks and processes at a multinational company and at a startup—without aiming to be exhaustive.
Process Execution vs. Process Creation
When you join a company which has been running for quite a long time, then you have to execute already designed processes which have been fine-tuned by the experience gained during the many years of operation to the design you have to do them now. You can make some minor adjustments, of course, but, due to the size and age of the company, you can expect some rigid reactions from your colleagues to your “world-changing” and efficiency-improving process development ideas.
This is completely different at a startup. Here it is absolutely true that not all the processes are designed from their beginnings to their ends, especially in the case of a starting/early phase startup. It happens often that a temporary process is created when the team meets the challenge. The best thing to do in this case is to choose the option that seems to be the best and to solve the challenge at hand by paying attention to incorporating this process with appropriate documentation into organisational operations as well. In the future, when this issue comes up again, we will know how we solved it in the past and what experience we had.
This might seem a bit too theoretical, so I give you a practical example:
You want to set up your first html email, and you want to be sure that the looks of the email fits to the design elements and design principles of the company.
Your scenario at a multinational corporation:
If you have a similar task at a large company, you will most probably gather information from a centrally managed document which you will get on your first days at the company and tell you whom you have to contact, and you will have a premade template to enter your contents, formulated according to guidelines already laid down. If you still think that this process is not efficient or already outdated, you cannot change it, or if you can, then you require a lot of consultation, approvals and energy, meaning that you have to go through the steps of the corporate bureaucratic labyrinth. So, you will meet something like this:
This is why a large corporation is not agile. :)
Your scenario at a startup:
If you do not have the skills of a pro illustrator, then you need design elements to build up your email, so you contact the designer with whom you discuss that in the future, you could use a folder where everyone can access the brand design elements. As soon as this folder is ready, you communicate this with the people concerned through the right channels and, let’s say, you also realise that it would be good if the chief designer would quickly review and approve the templates made by non-pro designers. And so, you have a process ready, and everyone knows in which folder to look for the design elements whenever these are required to make some sort of an online content and whom to send the prepared material for approval. And this process will run like this until the circumstances require change. So, this will look like this at a startup:
Where can you learn more? It is not a question that in the startup scenario you have defined an issue, a colleague helped you to make up a solution, you communicated it to the people concerned and you designed a process in essence to build up email templates. But this could have been a new marketing or sales strategy or a new method to process user feedbacks. You might be able to complete the task earlier in the scenario of the multinational corporation, as the colleagues who worked previously for the company have already gone through the mentioned process much more than one time, but you miss the designing of the entire process, which can be a great experience that you will have the chance to use in other fields of your life as well. So, the wisdom of the day is: It is not the goal that is important all the time, but the road to get there, as it will give us the most experience. :)
But you should not be surprised if at a startup you, as a marketer, are required to do some html or css writing or write a legal disclaimer, if the question at hand so requires. This might be difficult at the beginning, because these things can hold you back in proceeding with your tasks, as you first have to learn the specifications of the field at hand, something we have not encountered so far, because it is not what we learnt about, not the field where we have worked so far.
During compiling my first online material, I thought that after completing the content writing, all I will have to do is to forward it to the website developer and he would make the website. Instead, I had to learn how to compile a website with an online tool. This was much of a holdback at the beginning, but when I learned it and finished it, I could look back and say to myself: “Wow, how cool! In something like 2 months, it was me who has put together this entire series of websites and the user journey.”
On the whole, it was something very positive to me, because I had the chance to have an insight into the tasks of other fields and it enabled me to put together a colourful and complex set of technical knowledge by the end. This is something you can hardly encounter at a large company, there you usually learn about a single field and to be very efficient in a single process, such processes are however usually very specific to the company and you cannot really use them well in other areas.