This blog post covers one topic. How should you think about deploying the full Micro-battles System vs. alternative approaches to becoming a scale insurgent? The question dovetails into another one: How does any of this fit with the day-to-day challenges of running your company? We start with a bit of empathy, then describe four different approaches and finally step back to discuss how to think about the right fit for you.
In a previous blog post, on the six design principles of a scale insurgent, we noted that aligning on your own set of design principles is a critical part of the micro-battles journey. We also said we’d follow up with a discussion on these questions: “As I start this journey toward becoming a scale insurgent, what are the hardest issues I’m going to face and how can I begin to address them?”
This blog asks and tries to answer one question: “What are the organizational design principles that define a scale insurgent?” First, let’s remind ourselves why this question is so important.
- Your ambition is to become the scale insurgent in your industry. You want to capture the benefits of size as you grow (scale/scope advantages, learning, market power and influence) while also retaining a strong sense of the Founder’s Mentality (insurgency, frontline obsession, owner mindset). We call companies that do this scale insurgents.
- You are going to pursue this ambition by launching micro-battles. While there are multiple building blocks that comprise what you do to become a scale insurgent, micro-battles represent the how. Through micro-battles you rediscover the art of getting things done fast and the science of learning. We talk about this as […]
By Bhavya Nand Kishore and Peter Slagt
We’ve talked a lot in these blog posts about what’s involved in launching a series of micro-battles. We’ve discussed how critical it is to align around the goal of reclaiming your Founder’s Mentality® and becoming a scale insurgent. We’ve also explored how to select the first wave of micro-battles and put in place both a Lead-Learn team (to manage the portfolio of battles) and micro-battle teams (to lead each initiative though the Win-Scale cycle).
What we’ve yet to discuss in any depth is the training agenda: how your company learns to run the system while adopting new—sometimes radically new—behaviors and ways of working. Micro-battles are microcosms of the company you want to become and are designed to promote transformational change from the inside out. Consequently, you need to build in training and coaching for everybody from the executive committee to the members of the micro-battle teams.
As we noted in our blog post on winning skills, successful micro-battles depend on the ability to translate a company’s most important strategic initiatives into what we call “first failure points.” By that we mean you need to identify the biggest potential problem or hurdle that could derail the initiative and deal with that first by making it the focus of the micro-battle. Readers have been pretty clear in their feedback: This feels like a big idea, but I want to know more. So here is a detailed look at how scale insurgents master the critical skill of identifying first failure points so they can use micro-battles to solve them.
We described in earlier blog posts the Micro-battles System and the skills and behaviors necessary to run it. Now we are writing a series of posts on hot topics—this one on how to choose micro-battles. Here’s what to consider.
Micro-battles demand a strong strategic foundation
Micro-battles aren’t small things. They are your most important strategic initiatives. Strategic clarity is therefore critical when choosing them. While we believe it’s important to get started fast on your first wave of micro-battles, a program based on random initiatives will most likely lose momentum and fail. Selecting a coherent, impactful set of micro-battle initiatives depends first on two things.
You’ve bought the Micro-battles System and opened the box. You’re impressed by the awesome packaging and pull out one of those quick-setup infographic pages. This is our best shot at what that might look like. We’ve linked it heavily to other blog posts and videos, and we hope you find it useful. We’ve set it up as a 10-point checklist for the first 100 days, but you could also call it “How I Get Started with Micro-battles without Blowing Up My Company.” Let’s jump right into the 10 steps.
Besides the obvious fact that they’re all music acts, what do the Beatles, Green Day, the Four Tops and Jimi Hendrix have in common? Sometimes, they just couldn’t settle on a song title and played the parentheses game.
The specific goal of running a micro-battle portfolio is to change fundamentally the behaviors of the company’s most senior leaders. We talked about the benefits of leading by getting out of the way. The executive committee’s second job is to learn. In this context, that means two broad activities. First, the Lead-Learn team tries to spot patterns emanating from a portfolio of micro-battles and make sure the leaders of those battles talk to each other when they face similar problems or are close to similar solutions. Second, leaders use this flow of information to adjust the firm’s strategy and their own behaviors. If a common set of bureaucratic obstacles is slowing down every micro-battle, it might signal the need to adjust the organization.
This kind of learning will ensure that the firm benefits from its scale. The challenge is to make the […]