Steer Your Startup Without Micromanagement

In the 1999 cult classic, Office Space, in a meeting with outside consultants, protagonist Peter Gibbons exclaims, “I have eight bosses right now…when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it.”


In their eagerness to ensure employees were on-task, Peter’s company, Inotech, created overbearing layers of oversight. This fostered a culture of poor communication, confusing accountability, and frustrated employees. And worst of all, company leadership didn’t have a true picture of progress towards goals or of their employees’ motivation.


This scenario is frequently played out in new startups. Visionary founders fail to communicate priorities or to establish accountability. Employees have difficulty translating the founder’s intent into action, and the founder ends up micromanaging.


In our last post, we introduced the BOSS Missions, Objectives, Tasks, and Measures (MOTM) construct as a means for founders to translate their startup’s strategy into execution within Functional Areas.


But to effectively implement MOTM, manage company resources, and avoid micromanaging, founders must set clear priorities, establish transparent accountability, and create a predictable schedule for their Functional Areas (FA) to report progress.


This creates a chain of prioritization, delegation, execution, and accountability from company leadership, down to the actions of individual employees. And it fosters company alignment toward a shared strategy, and the opportunity for proactive decision making, without micro-management.


Determine Who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed (RACI)

RACI is a framework you can use for any mission, objective, or task. It’s a construct for delegating responsibility and for arming your employees with the resources they need to accomplish their job.


Any time a task, objective, or mission is developed, it's recommended to include a RACI. If using a spreadsheet to track your MOTM, the RACI can be added as four columns next to the task, objective, or mission. Here’s the breakout:

  • Responsible is the employee or leader ultimately responsible for completion of the task, objective, or mission.

  • Accountable is the employee, team, or leader who is accountable for completing the task and generally performs the majority of the work.

  • Consulted is the individual, Department, or FA (in addition to the responsible employee or leader) who the accountable employee can leverage for resources including information.

  • Informed is the individual (in addition to the accountable employee, team, or leader) the accountable provides updates on progress, blockers, or needs.

RACI is one of many possible methods for delegation and accountability. You’ll need to find the right accountability system for your company culture and communication methods.


Assigning Priority: Urgent, Important, Impact, Effort


Another important factor in delegating tasks is prioritizing work based on balancing the amount of work required and resources available, with the benefit to the business that comes from that work.


Urgency vs. Importance: Urgency prioritizes a task based on when it should be accomplished in relation to other tasks. The more urgent, the higher the priority should be. Importance allows you to prioritize tasks with similar urgency.


Here’s a sample task classification hierarchy based on urgency and importance:

  • Urgent & Important

  • Urgent & Not Important

  • Not Urgent & Important

  • Not Urgent & Not

Impact vs. Effort: Impact prioritizes tasks based on the benefit to most immediate company objectives and priorities. Effort assesses the amount of company resources (e.g., time, employees, money, space, etc) required to complete that task.


Here’s a sample task classification hierarchy based on importance and effort:

  • High Impact & Low Effort

  • High Impact & High Effort

  • Low Impact & Low Effort

  • Low Impact & High Effort

Regardless of the terminology, format, or tool you use, your MOTM should include elements of RACI and prioritization to maximize efficiency and accountability, and to avoid incurring the wrath of the Office Space “Bobs.”



If you want to learn more about the BOSS Startup Science way of establishing clear, transparent priorities, register here and use the code BCP123 for access. Also, stay tuned for our upcoming webinar with Marty Bickford about MOTM, RACI and other important considerations when building your team.




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