WHY process breaks as your startup grows:

// 3 people // “Founder” stage
Just the founders. No process needed. Everyone’s “in the room”.

// 10 people //  “Single-Person Department” stage
Everyone knows what’s happening. People meet 1:1 to make decisions. Most departments are covered by a single person (CS, Sales, Product, Support, Ops, etc.).

// 30 people // “Single-Team Departments” stage
Each department/function has a real team. Decisions, priorities, and changes need to be communicated within the functional team.  Light-process is needed to connect functional areas.

// 100+ people // “Multi-Team Departments” stage
You now have multiple sub-teams within functions (especially: Sales, CS, Product, Engineering). You need processes that both align functional sub-teams and connect departments as the company grows. 

For a long-time, I’ve referred to the “Rule of 3 and 10” to explain why processes break at predictable intervals: 3, 10, 30, 100, 300, etc.  

Recently, I noticed these sizes correlate with shifts in departmental structure:

“Single-Person Department” > “Single-Team Department” > “Multi-Team Department”

This is WHY, I believe, the “Rule of 3 and 10” so often holds true.

Shifts in departmental structure ultimately trigger these “growth breaks process” moments.

Note: This Sequoia Capital article, is where I first learned about the “Rule of 3 and 10”. Good, short read for those who want to learn more:


Photo by Daniel Tafjord on Unsplash

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