“Daddy, can I crash it?”

My three-year-old was holding a blue lego truck, we’d just built.

“Sure, buddy, if you want to.”

He smiles, kneels down, and drives the truck full-speed into the dresser.  

Legos scatter, and a huge grin appears on his face.

After years of lego building with my boys — this is hardly a one-off situation.  

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We build.  They play with it.  They crash it.  We do it all over again.

Their child-minds are far less attached to their creations.

My “Let’s build it again!” impulse has long since disappeared.

That’s okay for lego-building, I guess.

But, it hurts us when we build startups.

In order to scale, startups build out Process, Operating Rhythms, and Team Structures.

(I’ll refer to these collectively as “PORTS”.)

PORTS are how you operationalize the business.  

They’re the organizational scaffolding you need to scale.  

But, they don’t last long.

The average shelf-life of a startup process is 6-12 months.  

Growth forces change.  It shifts problems.  

Old pain points get replaced by new ones.  

You can Google the “Rule of Three and Ten” to dive deeper on this “growth breaks process” concept.  It’s like a law of physics.  It happens.  And it happens, somewhat predictably.

As a startup leader, you find yourself building and rebuilding PORTS all the time.  They’re temporary structures that you’re constantly re-visiting and re-working as the business grows.

The goal is to build just enough for now, and be willing to rebuild again in 6 months.

I love watching startup leaders who embrace this.  It changes how they talk.  

They say, things like:
“Everything breaks as you grow”
“This process works well enough for now, let’s not over-engineer it”
“Is this meeting still useful? Maybe we should kill it now that we’re bigger.”

This creates a culture that sees PORTS as useful, but temporary tools.  

They’ll use them.  And they’ll replace them.  They won’t get too attached.

Replacing PORTS isn’t a sign of failure, it’s a sign of progress.  

It’s embracing the physical ‘laws of nature’ that govern startups.

It’s trying to recapture some of that child-like enthusiasm that shouts:

“Let’s build it again!”

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