8 ways for teams to move with urgency and focus when scaling

By November 18, 2018 ScaleUp

8 ways for teams to move with urgency and focus when scaling

Minimizing risks as companies grow will always be one of the top priorities in the scale up community. As structured departments begin to form when companies start to scale and expand to other countries, so does birthing to multiple problems within the organization. From dealing with timezones, communications, languages, to more complex decision-making, David Schreiber, Product Leader at Stripe shares his insights to teams moving with urgency and focus as his operating principle.

When pushing through critical projects, the biggest driving force in productivity is maintaining focus and creating urgency. 4 Distinct solutions in maintaining focus when growing:

1. Ownership of the team and its members.

A team can only focus at one or two things at a time. Cut responsibilities into small digestible parts. This way you develop that team into being a specialist in a specific area in developing more interesting products in the future. Then create smaller sub-teams and make that team have clear ownership of their responsibilities.

2. Modularize infrastructure and define interfaces for the team to follow directives

As you start building smaller teams, especially if you want to develop a team that is independent either in one country or within the company’s umbrella, defining a clear interface and roadmap for the team is crucial to maintain focus. Designing the project directions or infrastructure of responsibilities, makes it easy to articulate which team will work on a particular project.

3. Transparent quarterly roadmaps

When the team’s project roadmap, whether short term or long term, is put in place, being flexible to changing directives on the to do list for the team means the team is adaptable. Updating the team’s roadmap on a quarterly basis can be used a benchmark to check progress.

4. Escalation forums within the team

Resolving conflicts within the team or department need not be complicated and hard. Make explicit and transparent solutions by creating a point person in each team (usually the team leader) where problems can be escalted from and decisions made.

4 Tips to Solving Urgency

1. Have a clear decision framework “when” urgency is needed. This is important to projects that are time sensitive and have deadlines. Only the most important problems should be escalated to the executive level so training the team leaders to solve problems on their own will help avoid delays in production. The product managers and lead engineers should take ownership and manage their staff and they should be empowered with decision making.

2. Escalation formats for short-term interventions (code yellow).

Create a short-term intervention models that can pull resources from other teams should the need arise and assigning the decision making to the project manager.

3. Increase visibility of communication within the company, from the executive board to the product users.
Once the company grows, internal and external communication is very important for decision making. Things like how teams are working on things and how they’re moving along it, as well as making a commitment to communicating updates to the employees, and all the way to the consumers reporting their experience, the communication line must be open and visible.

4. Employess owning their responsibilites
Make it clear from the beginning during the hiring process that employees need to own their jobs and responsibilities.


In ending to this article, we all know that problems abound as companies start to scale. We can only look up to them, learn from these established and seasoned companies such as Stripe’s mistakes and how they overcame challenges so that we may learn from their progress. Although, needs and situations differ from one company to another, the ability to manage expectations based from other companies’ experience in the process of scaling, may all together bring forth success in your company as you scale.

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