One of the reasons startups are able to beat large incumbents is that they can move faster and stay closer to the customer. Only, as the startup grows, more process and bureaucracy is introduced as people specialize in smaller and smaller functions. I like to think of this as the SOP Continuum:
Seat Of Pants (SOP) <———-> Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
- Seat Of Pants – Everything is done on the fly. Nothing is documented. Action is fast but quality and consistency can suffer.
- Standard Operating Procedure – Everything has a process and documentation. Things are done as quickly as the plan allows and bottlenecks can be common. Consistency is high.
Entrepreneurs would do well to pay attention to the SOP Continuum in their own companies and find the right balance based on the stage of the business.
What else? What are some more thoughts on the SOP Continuum?
Thanks to Karen from One Team Consulting for the idea.