Startup operations management: how to run your startup

Operations management in startups is simple. It needs 3 things:

  1. knowing Why you are doing what you are doing
  2. having a plan for How to achieve your Why
  3. doing What you have to do to execute your How


If you know Why, you can formulate How and execute What


If you know why your organisation exists, you simply work continuously to shape all of the operational What into a tree structure underneath the Why

  1. Why comes from your CEO
  2. How comes from your Senior Management
  3. if you are responsible for operations, you are responsible for making sure the What gets executed


Watch Simon Sinek’s video to understand a bit more about the powerful shaping forces of Why, How & What


Implicit vs explicit

One of your greatest challenges will be in taking things from implicit to explicit. Implicit understandings are all the institutional things that people believe or bring with them into the job. Making the implicit explicit is doing things like:

  • talking through how a process actually works
  • documenting processes
  • making people explain how they do their job and why
  • trying to connect every What you do to you How and Why
  • putting KPIs on a board in the middle of the room and making them transparent
  • arranging all your KPIs in a funnel to make sure they all relate to each other


You may believe that in your organisation everyone thinks the same way about your KPIs or core goals or whatever. But when you start to turn these implicit beliefs into explicit documentation, you will uncover all sorts of horrors and elephants in the room. The good thing is that when you go through the pain of sorting them out you will have a much more capable organisation.


This is the pain that the Operations Manager must carry – the pain of bursting people’s belief bubbles and making them face reality




When things don’t get executed or fall between the cracks, this is normally when a trigger is not correctly executed – maybe someone was sick and didn’t send their usual email and that cascaded into other things that got missed

An Operations Manager needs to think of all the triggers that need to be hit to deliver what the business needs and then to understand and plan for what happens when a trigger isn’t hit