Startup Essential Workshop #6 – Getting to Operational Excellence

The topic of the sixth Lecture in the Startup Essentials Workshop Series by VentureLab was Operation Excellence.

Lead speaker Stefan Steiner started with the quote: “ The Scarest Resource at Startups is Management Bandwidth” In other words, as a CEO you cannot manage everything. You need to distribute roles and responsibilities among coworker. He emphasized the significance of a structure in company.



The key of a productive team is “ Trust”. Stefan refers to the book “ The Five Dysfunctions of a team” which explores the fundamental of team failure. According to the book, the five dysfunctions are: Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability, Inattention to Results.

One task of the CEO is to manage his worker. On one hand he needs to identify the strength of each employee and motivate him. On the other hand criticism is essential to the process of improvement.  Otherwise there is no focus and no responsibility.

Bad rumors about the company can damage the reputation that can have other consequences. Try to build a good alumnae group from which the employees may benefit in many ways.

From the outset define the main competencies of your company. What do you want to do in-house? What can you outsource? Outsource those functions that are not strategic but which must be performed to manage the business operations.

Ask yourself always the question: Am I doing the right stuff as a CEO?

Finding the right tool can be challenging. Start with a simple tool that every employee has access and later invest in more professional tools.

Suddenly you are in an interview on the other side of the table. Still don’t forget the main point: You have to convince them as well. An advice given by Stefan was to introduce a trial day. Invite the employee to work a day in their future position. So you will get that person better to know and it is easier to find the right person. People behave differently in an interview than in the real life. Make your decision based on the opinion of the team.

Hire interns as the first employees since they are cheap and competent. Make sure that they have a vision and that it matches to yours. Since you don’t have enough money in this stage sell the vision to the employees.

As it takes plenty of time to train them, give them perspectives. Bear in mind to make him later to a normal employee. Build a culture that employees stays with you. Constantly recruiting can destroy a good climate.

Last advice of Stefan was to have weekly fixed meetings. It is a great way to keep all employees updated what is going on in the company.

- Panuya Balasuntharam, ETH Entrepreneur Club

Basic Sponsors