If you are looking for a one-stop-shop guide to how to be a better technology start-up CEO, read this book. Focused on entrepreneurs who want to scale up their businesses, it systematically lays out the roadmap they should take. Broken up into lots of small bite-size chapters, each one is concise and focused on a singular aspect which the start-up CEO should be thinking through, wherein part it takes the form of a manual or workbook, with everything is broken down with a high degree of detail.
The upside of this is that if you are a new tech CEO, this is genuinely invaluable, with that, in fact, out of any of the self-help entrepreneur books I have read, this is one of the most useful, packed with insights which once explained is logical, but aren’t immediately obvious. As an example, early on, the book explains the importance of punctuality, in that, if you arrive late then what happens is you destroy the productivity of the other person as they are unable to commit to starting an alternate activity as they are in limbo waiting for you. As a relatively punctual person, I have always respected the importance, but this insight gave me a way to explain this to others, making me a better manager in the process.
Similarly, later in the book, the author talks about the Zone of Genius, which other than being an eye-catching label is well worth reflecting on. Put simply he argues that the typical person has their areas of competence and enjoyment, where the biggest danger a CEO can fall into is being sucked into the area where they have the highest competency, but don’t enjoy the workflow. Instead dedicate time to areas where not only is their expertise greater than anyone else, but this is what they enjoy the most also. Speaking for myself, for a first phase startup I am not sure how realistic this is, equally once a business goes beyond a certain size, the CEO should definitely be organising that they can operate within this paradigm.
Another top tip he gives is later in the book where he outlines how he would screen on interviewing, operating a mindset of if in doubt, don’t hire, and only recruit people you are 100% will be or have the potential to be A grade. However, probably the most useful insight of all, is when he introduces the RAPID technique, which is a protocol developed by the Consulting firm Bain, designed to optimise decision making, where it is broken down as follows:
Someone identifies an issue or decision that needs to be made. They prepare a write up with the following details:
- The issue
- The proposed solution
- The list of people needed to make and implement the decision
- R (Recommend) The one who first proposed the issue and solution
- A (Agree) Those people whose input must be incorporated into the decision
- P (Perform) Those people who will have to enact any decision and therefore should be heard
- I (Input) Senior people within the company whose departments and processes will be affected by the decision and therefore should be heard
- D (Decide) the one will make the decision. If a decision is irreversible, it should be made by the CEO, if it is reversible, it should be made by someone else.
- A section on the document for each person to write their comments
It then in this chapter gives case studies on how to use this technique, were speaking for myself, having been exposed to a lot of management best practice I had never come across it, none the less found it both sensible and something I would look to incorporate. With that, it is worth factoring that the author Matt Mochary successfully took his start-up to being a hugely successful technology company where it raised $100million in VC funding, before later being sold. So, him giving a walkthrough on the essential steps to being a great CEO is worth paying attention to.