Quarterly “Stop, Start, and Continue” Reviews

Giff Constable management

stopgoLast night, Matt Blumberg of Return Path discussed some of the pivots his business has taken on its journey at a Lean Startup Meetup in NYC.  Matt has a first post up about it here, with the great quote:

the larger your business is, and the more investors have a stake in it, the harder it is to make BIG pivots or any kind of jumps.  Innovation is still critical, but innovating from a well-protected core is what it’s all about, not chasing new shiny objects.

My favorite gem from Matt came up at the end, where he mentioned a fabulous practice they have at Return Path.  Focus is critical to startups, and part of focus is knowing when to say no — not just before something begins, but once it is underway and has resources and momentum.  In other words, killing projects off, pruning for health.

Each quarter, every employee at Return Path has to make and share a list of the projects they think the company should STOP, START, and CONTINUE.

I think it is a simple and fabulous idea, and I believe that it would be essential that 1. everyone gets a voice and 2. that the CEO makes sure to listen to every voice (i.e. avoid the danger of a middle manager stifling voices to protect a job or project).

Also on this topic: Caterina Fake, Working on the right thing, Part II

(Update: fixed typo in title. Quartlerly, eh. Glad I can spell.)