Leadership & Management70

Scale like a Startup

Scale like a Startup | Luke Hohmann

Luke Hohmann

April 15, 2021


Imagine you're a startup, either within an existing company (intrapreneurship) or as a new corporate entity, like FirstRoot (entrepreneurship). While you're starting small, you want to 'grow into something big' - and you want to leverage the best thinking possible as you do it!

You could start with Scrum or Kanban. But then you'd end up piecing together all of the rest of what you need to be successful - things like market segmentation, personas, journey maps, story maps, and financial modeling. Instead of building your solution, you'd spend a lot of time building how to build your solution.

Of course, if you're a methodologist, that's exactly what you love to do! You love to piece stuff together and tailor methods. But if you're an intra or entrepreneur, you'd rather invest that time in building your company.

Startups also need to make significant investment decisions. Invest money wisely and you grow. Spend money poorly and fail. It would therefore be ideal if your process supported you in making high-impact portfolio choices. And because startups are dealing with extreme uncertainty, it would be ideal if the investment decision-making process promoted collaboration with employees, investors, customers, and partners/suppliers. And when these portfolio decisions result in contracts, it would be ideal if contracts you create are grounded in agile values.

The approach we are taking at FirstRoot is to start with the Portfolio Configuration of SAFe® and lightly tailor it to meet our needs. This might seem surprising, as many people perceive SAFe as a 'heavy' or 'complex' method. Starting with SAFe is starting with the end in mind: if you're successful, you will created a culture geared for growth: your founding team will know that the practices they're using are the practices that future teams will be using. Instead of being a methodologist and building methods, you can be an entrepreneur and build solutions.

Luke will share the story of how FirstRoot, a Silicon Valley startup designed to promote economic equality through Participatory Budgeting, is preparing to scale by starting with scaling in mind. Key learnings include the importance of selecting an uber-architecture, how to build the domain knowledge needed to create a high-performance development organization from scratch, how to leverage design thinking to ensure you’re building the right thing, and how to balance strategy (long range thinking and planning) with tactics (the iterations and Sprints of Agile).

About Luke Hohmann

Founder and CEO, FirstRoot, Inc.

Photo of Luke HohmannLuke is founder and CEO of FirstRoot, Inc. Our mission is to create the next generation of impact investors. Our unique go-to-market strategy supports all stakeholders as youth use participatory budgeting to invest real money in their schools. Youth learn the 5 C's of modern education: creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and civics as they experience true agency and stewardship over their futures, learning through their own experiences how money really works.

Previously a SAFe® Framework Contributor and Principal Consultant, Luke was Founder and CEO of Conteneo, Inc. (acquired by Scaled Agile, Inc.) where he worked with an extraordinary dev team to create the Weave, Strategy Engine and Knowsy® decision agility platforms.

The author of four books, numerous articles and cited as an inventor on more than a dozen patents, Luke is an internationally recognized expert in Agile Software Development. Luke co-organized the first Agile conference in 2003, has served on the Board of the Agile Alliance and in partnership with the Scrum Alliance produced the "Collaboration at Scale", the world's largest monthly webinar devoted to helping organizations with 10 or more Scrum teams in 2 or more locations scale agility.

Luke is a highly sought after speaker has as keynoted such conferences as the Agile Alliance conference, Agile Australia, Lean-Agile Scotland, Agile New Zealand, the Austrian Innovation Forum, the CXPA and the SAFe Summit.

Luke is the co-founder of Every Voice Engaged Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit that helps citizens, governments and nonprofit organizations collaboratively solve problems that are unsolvable without civic engagement. EVEF has been a leader in the Participatory Budgeting movement, helping citizens prioritize hundreds of millions of dollars through Budget Games.

A former United States National Junior Pairs Figure Skating Champion, Luke likes playing with his four kids, his wife’s cooking and long runs in the Santa Cruz mountains. Luke’s an old school Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Instead of building companies to flip, he builds companies that make the world better!

Luke Hehmann on Linkedin

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