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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Building A Business Operating System

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Matt Blumberg‘s amazing new book Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business is out and shipping. The early reviews are great, including this detailed one from Tech Cocktail.

Matt’s book is already having an impact in my world. At Cheezburger, we just added Scott Moore to the leadership team. Ben Huh, the founder/CEO who I adore and love working with, send out a powerful email about how he’s approaching Cheezburger’s next stage of growth, and how he’s thinking about building the business operating system. He builds off many of the concepts in Matt’s book and told me I was free to blog this for the world to see.

Following is Ben’s email.

——–

Hey Cheezburgers,

After recruiting our new COO & President Scoot Moore, I am shifting one of my major projects to on boarding Scott. I’m kicking off the process of building the business Operating System for Cheezburger. This is a super important item that I am thrilled to get started on.

It’s perfect timing for us. As COO & President, Scott has management responsibility for a huge area of Cheezburger. By building the metrics, communication rhythms, reports, etc. I can really help Scott get a feel for our business and where we stand as we plan for 2014. It’s one part communication, one part feedback process, and one part creating clarity.

A business Operating System is a simple idea:

  • Using the company’s values (of Truth, Excellence, and Happiness)…
  • create a set of consistent rhythm for communications, meetings, procedures and decision-making…
  • which helps align everyone’s goals with the ultimate objectives of the company.

Put in other words: A business OS is how we consistently and clearly communicate, hire, make decisions, etc. that help us do more faster.

In practice, this comes down to some answers to questions like this: (examples)

  • When do we plan for the next year? And who owns the process?
  • How do I measure my performance against my, or my team’s goals?
  • I need another person on my team to help better reach my team’s goals. How do I go about doing that?
  • I’d like to send out a company-wide update on something my team did. How do I do that?
  • How do I know what I am working on aligns with the company’s goals?
  • What metrics do we report company-wide? And why?
  • etc. etc. etc.

It’s an idea I first heard from another Foundry Group CEO, Matt Blumberg. In fact, he’s written a book based on those ideas.

One of the key improvements you should see as a result of this should be more consistency and clarity in communications and processes. This is one of the reasons why I push for a single IT system like Google Drive vs having two, and why I want you to post content for dissemination in our intranet. I hope that the OS will help you see the bigger picture. The opposite of having an effective business OS is a company that is confused due to lack of clarity and unable to move in the same direction together, therefore missing goals and opportunities.

There are 6 key areas that I want to structure the OS around (this will evolve as I work with Scott and the exec team):

  1. Company-wide communications and meetings
  2. Creating, aligning, and sharing goals
  3. Measuring performance against goals and metrics
  4. Establishing cadence, rhythm, and deadlines
  5. Clarity in decision-making process, transparency, and openness
  6. Well-functioning systems and operational processes

For you, the impact will be that I will be talking about almost everything in the context of our Culture/Values, Goals/KPIs/Metrics, and Systems/Processes.

Pre-Order Startup CEO, The Newest Startup Revolution Book

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Pre-orders for the new book Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business by Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path, are available now on Amazon. Matt, who writes the awesome blog Only Once (which stands for “you can only be a first time CEO once”) has put a herculean effort into writing an amazing book while running a very large company.

This is the latest book in the Startup Revolution series of books that include Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your CityStartup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur, and Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist.

I’ve worked with Matt since 2001 when I joined Fred Wilson and Greg Sands on the board of Return Path. At the time I was an investor in a company called Veripost that was a direct competitor with Return Path. Fred was an investor in Return Path. Each company was about 20 people. The founders knew each other well and were in a brutal competition in a market that didn’t yet exist. They decided they wanted to join forces, Fred and I cut a deal over the phone in 5 minutes, and Greg Sands (at Sutter Hill at the time) led a financing round that set a price for the combined company.

Twelve years later Matt is still Return Path’s CEO. George Bilbrey, one of the Veripost founders, is the President. They are incredible partners and Matt is still a first time CEO, but now running a 400 person company that dominates its market.

The book is broken up into five parts:

  • Part I: Storytelling
  • Part II: Building the Company’s Human Capital
  • Part III: Execution
  • Part IV: Building and Leading a Board of Directors
  • Part V: Managing Yourself So You Can Manage Others

Matt  has the entire outline of Startup CEO up on his blog. As with all books in the Startup Revolution series, it combines practical experience with advice with stories with commentary from other experts.

I think Startup CEO is going to be a must read for any CEO. Do Matt a solid and go pre-order it today.

Startup CEO – New Book in the Startup Revolution Series

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Matt Blumberg, the CEO of Return Path, has just put up a post about the new book he’s working on called Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Building and Running Your CompanyI’m super excited that this is going to be the fifth book in the Startup Revolution series and the first book not co-written by me.

Matt is an extraordinary CEO who I’ve had the pleasure to work with for a dozen years. We’ve learned a lot from each other and his blog at Only Once (as in – you can only be a first time CEO once, and Matt’s been one for a dozen years) should be reading for any and every CEO. Matt’s now putting effort into creating a definitive book for any CEO – first time or otherwise – of a high growth company.

When I started working on the Startup Revolution books, my goal was to expand it beyond my own writing with a goal of creating a large body of work that had relevance to a wide range of entrepreneurs and durability over the next few decades. Matt’s book is the first of what I hope to be a number of new additions to the series.

The five books in the series are now:

Look for a few more additions to the series soon. Matt – welcome aboard the Startup Revolution!

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