So by sheer hard work, determination, and not a little luck, you are successfully juggling two offices; one in Europe and one in the US. It’s a mighty achievement, because, in a high-growth business, almost everything is stacked against you
Obviously, you will want to insulate yourself from complexity and confusion in running those two offices, and to some degree that will come down to process. Matthew Bruun of Brightpearl talks about the importance of playbooks: processes which can be exported and which are rigid enough to enforce best practice, but flexible enough to allow the freedom to localise.
However, that’s a functional approach, and whilst it will keep your business safely on the straight and narrow, you should also invest in ways which will help you not only survive as a two-hub business but improve and thrive.
So by sheer hard work, determination, and not a little luck, you are successfully juggling two offices; one in Europe and one in the US. It’s a mighty achievement, because, in a high-growth business, almost everything is stacked against you – every switchback or point of inflexion is a risk – and now you’re doing many things twice.
Most important here is the culture of the company.
By moving to the US, perhaps with some key European employees, a founder is already setting the tone and culture of the firm. But you should also articulate what it is that makes the business, the business.
What approaches add the most value? What sort of people make it tick? As one of our founders said, “Can I imagine this person jumping up and down on a bouncy castle at 2am? If not, then they won’t fit in.”
Of course, some ventures will be considerably less fun, and culture is much more than a Fussball table – it’s a set of values, behaviours and shared purpose. But the fact remains, your corporate culture is the best short-hand for any operations manual you can conceive.
That culture will also bind your two teams across the Atlantic: as our Culture expert, Multiple’s Abbie Pugh, says, people who don’t feel aligned with each other are less likely to be proactive in reaching out to each other. Sharing of ideas and collaboration throughout distributed offices is much easier to deliver when you’ve got a clear and codified culture and narrative.
Second, with two offices, you can begin to optimise – effectively A/B testing processes globally – to take the best of one territory and see if it improves results in the other.
This too can be process-oriented or cultural: Jos White says that at MessageLabs the US work rate and appetite for success, instantly forced his UK team to ‘move up a gear’, significantly improving the pace and quality of execution across the business.
A few words of wisdom from the Notion Family:
Use the move to the US as a launch pad and rallying cry for the whole organization to step up; because if it doesn’t, especially as they’re supporting you remotely anyway in the early days, you have to work really hard to stay competitive. It’s like training at altitude: you’re going to be under more existential pressure, so everyone has to step up their game. Jos White, President US, MessageLabs
Culture matters because it’s all about optimising team performance. If people hold the knowledge and ability to build the business and deliver value, then culture is how we create the conditions in which they’ll deliver their best work. Abbie Pugh, Partner, Multiple
It’s hard culturally to create a global organisation later on. Your culture is less settled in the early days so it’s easier to shape, and you can inject a lot of positives from the US like aggressiveness and competitiveness, which Europeans lack. Christian Lanng, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Tradeshift
Crossing the Atlantic