Think Big — Bias for Action — Add to the Culture

Bottom line up front:

Start ups are hard and hiring into what can be a chaotic and fast-moving environment is not easy. …


Book clubs can be for so much more than social purposes

We have had an Operations Book Club at Volta Charging the past few years and the program has evolved over time. Our Ops team had eight members when we started and we were a somewhat classic startup that was trying to deal with huge amounts of uncertainty and chaos. With that, we started with tactical reads like The Checklist Manifesto and then moved onto more sophisticated operations topics like The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement and a case study on the Lego company. Broader team dynamics were explored…


Ways to bring a new perspective to your thinking

It’s common practice in the time of COVID-19 to practice social distancing; maintain at least 6 feet away from others. While spending a lot of time social distancing myself this past week, I thought about my company and role and how I could do things differently. That’s hard, though…it’s not easy to just “think different”. Thinking like an outsider, like someone new to your field, is often enough of a perspective shift to start the innovation gears in your head cranking. How exactly to do that? I’m calling this “role distancing”…


It’s time to grow up, and this is where it gets rocky

Congratulations. Whether you are a founder, early employee, or employee #100, this is a big milestone for the company. Some of the most obvious changes at this point are that it will be hard remember everyone’s name and you’ll start having multiple folks with a similar email address. …


Part of being a ‘Superboss’ is recognizing high performers will leave your team

A member of my team announced she is leaving. Not just any member, but a high performing Solutions Engineer with huge potential in this field. It stung a lot a first — great SEs are hard to find — but after the initial I shock I thought about what this means for me and our team. It can be easy to see the loss of a key team member as a personal defeat. Why is she leaving? I could have been a better manager. What did I do wrong?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want great people to leave…


Hiring

Startup hiring doesn’t have to be hard

Congratulations. Your company is growing and the team is expanding. You might be part of the senior team that is hiring the first head of a key department or perhaps you are a member of the broader company and are assisting with interviewing. At some point as the member of a growing startup you’ll be needed to interview someone for a role you aren’t familiar with. Here are strategies to help you — and your company — succeed.

If possible, do the job yourself or work to get as much experience as you can doing that job yourself.

You might…


There is no easy way to make hard decisions. My approach brings that of a structured engineer (the beginnings of my college studies), psychology and behavior (my college degree), military thinking (the first 10 years of my professional career) and an operations approach (my roles after the military).

Decision making can be hard and it’s important to keep in mind there is no one-size-fits-all process. Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors that can easily reserved or changed.

While frameworks can be helpful, good judgment always applies.

Understand the type of decision you are making

Start with clearly defining, “What are we trying to decide and how significant is…


“In the mind of an expert, the possibilities are few. In the mind of a beginner, the possibilities are many.”

Learning a new sport can help you regain and embrace your beginner’s mindset. Then, with just a little bit of effort, you can translate that energy, enthusiasm, and desire to learn back to the sports you are already experienced in and improve your performance there. A similar approach holds true in the leadership realm — regaining and embracing your beginner’s mindset will help you to be a better manager and leader. Remember how hard you worked and studied upon earning…


Operations is an ever-changing business. Mix in the variability that comes with a startup and you have the makings of a volatile endeavor.

I previously wrote about “How to succeed as VP of Operations at a startup”. After a full year at Volta Charging, it’s time to expand on those lessons and add more examples of what “good” looks like, not only as the leader of an Operations team at a startup, but also for anyone working at (or thinking about) a startup.


“Burn the bag”

Operations is an ever-changing business. Mix in the variability that comes with a startup and you have the makings of a volatile endeavor.

No one can proclaim there are “rules” for for being the VP of Operations at startup. The only rule is that there are no rules — the situation will be too fluid and if there were “rules”, well, anyone could do it. With that, here are ten ideas on how to succeed in your new role heading up Ops at a startup.

Jon Michaels

I thrive in unstructured, ambiguous environments. I bring passion and enthusiasm to everything I do and get excited about bringing out the best in others.

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