Performance Excellence Foundation…..for Start-ups

Performance Excellence Foundation for Start-ups - Qimpro

Start-ups Characteristics

The Quality Management Practices of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present.

Start-ups have a new glossary for management. Amongst others, long-term is defined as 1000 days, and product life cycle as 100 days.

In fact, even traditional organizations have to now perform like start-ups. They have to abandon the five year long-term plan, as well as two years product life cycle.

Start-ups Practices

I have often been asked to spell Quality and Excellence Practices for real start-ups. Unfortunately I have not had an answer, backed with facts and experience.

Since start-ups are the new reality, let me make an attempt. This draft is open for correction and new inputs.

In this draft I will focus on Performance Excellence only.

Start-ups Foundation

The foundation for Performance Excellence in any start-up involves three elements:

  • Entrepreneurial Leadership
  • Strategic Planning
  • Customer Focus.

If these three elements are not mature in the start-up, Performance Excellence, if achieved, is accidental.

Here are nine critical practices (culled from several) for the three elements:

  1. The entrepreneur develops a customer-focused vision
  2. The entrepreneur actively engages in innovation and improvement projects
  3. The entrepreneur ensures organization-wide ethical behaviour
  4. Strategic planning is a vision deployment exercise
  5. Senior leaders are assigned ownership for strategic goals
  6. Human resource plans are derived from the strategic plan
  7. Customers include: External customers; internal customers; society; Mother Earth
  8. The entrepreneur and senior leaders proactively meet external customers
  9. Customer knowledge is fed by senior leaders to innovation engineers.

Try putting your start-up (even traditional) organization to this test.

Random Thoughts

  1. Should MBA programmes be redesigned?
  2. Should B Tech programmes be redesigned?
  3. Is a family owned start-up any different?
  4. Start-ups should be adept at right-brain creativity tools for innovation.


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9 thoughts on “Performance Excellence Foundation…..for Start-ups”

  • Thank you Mr Lulla. My only concern with startups is the concept of “cash burn” that they indulge in. As long as there is funding things are fine, when the funds dry up they go belly up! I wonder whether there is ever a sound plan to be profitable – mostly you see the mad rush to grow even before reaching profitability. There are repercussions on the ecosystem as well. I would therefore propose to add a clear financial plan to profitability and strict adherence to it! In addition, a strong emphasis on creating and sustaining a strong partner ecosystem.

    • Ashok…If the stated or implied Vision is only about money….with the associated risks……you land up with cash burns.

      Start-ups must remember that Customer Delight delivers revenues. . Profits is a by-product of Customer Delight.

      Solution: Have a customer-driven Vision.

  • Thanks for sharing and making a good blog about startups. I can add agility and flexibility as two additional characteristics of start-ups.

  • It is the leadership that set the direction of the organisation and guide its sustainability through intelligent risk taking.
    Focus of Leadership on Customer , Innovation, Governance and Work Processes can help current start-ups to become a valuable billion dollar brand of tomorrow.

      • With uncontrolled tendency of managers to over manage work systems and processes, these systems and processes become bureaucratic over a period of time. TIme and money are wasted – Waiting for decisions, lack of clarity on accountability of cross-functional processes (your baby and not mine), Too many checks and controls, etc. These organizations start losing their agility and respond slowly to external changes.
        It is the responsibility of leaders to review these processes and ensure that COPQ assessment. is carried out periodically and COPQ factors are eliminated. Streamlining of processes to reduce cycle time should be looked into.

  • Precisely put the universal applicability…
    Will imbibe 9 principals….especially when I get into new startups.
    My mental responses to random thoughts posed above:
    1. Yes
    2. Yes
    3. No
    4. Best suited…
    Pranams!!

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