From a management perspective, many think building a startup is like architecture: strategy, planning, execution. Build, build, build! At Ender, we think it’s more like gardening.
Plant the seeds. Water and prune the plants. Rip out weeds and dead plants. Experiment with different fertilizers. Constantly maintain and cultivate the garden. As the garden grows, we bring in other gardeners to assist.
Who we hire and how they fit within our organization. Some seeds complement others. Know which seeds to plant where.
Stay in touch with and guide the team, e.g., 1:1s and leveling.
Give feedback to develop our team to be the best versions of themselves. We utilize performance reviews and performance improvement plans when necessary.
Rip out weeds
Let go of low performers. They waste the team’s time and energy.
Experiment with fertilizers
Try different ways to motivate the team. When we add a process, we do it slowly so we can A/B test to see what works and what doesn’t. Keep it simple.
At scale, it’s necessary for leaders and top individual contributors to become managers.
Maintain and Cultivate
Apply horizontal frameworks. Manage operational debt. Apply constant, gentle pressure on people, projects, and processes. My favorite questions during 1:1s are in the vein of: “What can we be doing better?” and “Are there processes we have that cause more harm than good?” A company can always be better; It’s on us to figure out what can be done and prioritize accordingly.
We realize designers are different from engineers who are different from ops who are different from product people. And within these areas, each person is unique. Everyone responds best to certain actions. We learn them and constantly experiment.
Cultivate the garden.