Structures from nothing

Starting a company is a privilege. As summarised in Zero to One it’s not an incremental improvment, but going from zero to one, making something where there wasn’t anything before.

When making structures from nothing, I found it important to note how the overarching structure of the company would be built from its numerous subsystems and structures and how these should all support the larger structure. Every structure needed to have a purpose for being part of FreeUP. Further to that, each structure should be one that improved itself over time, rather than requiring ever greater maintenance. With these in place, the most elegant solution to the start-up goal could be achieved and with it the greatest odds of success.

A small example is my to-do list. What I wanted was a system that would not just capture my to-dos, but help me complete them. Over time, by helping me do them, it would also increase my bandwidth and give me insights into how to get more done.

In my experience, starting simple and letting useful complexity grow out, works best. I started by populating my week with tasks, leaving a few mandatory time gaps for when unexpected tasks would undoubtedly arise. At the end of the week, (in a task all of its own), I would then assess what had and hadn’t been completed.

To stop putting too much on the list, I then started roughly timeboxing tasks. This forced me to decide what had the most value from a strategic viewpoint as I couldn’t do it all. It also increased the value created by completing the tasks and my ability to assess how much could get done.

I then noticed how some tasks tended to keep getting bumped to the next week. To fix this, I created a filter that would automatically collect old tasks and force me, once a week, to complete or delete them.

My to-do list these days, hugely helps me move forwards through the week, in turn moving FreeUP forwards. It has geo-fenced tasks for when I’m passing a location, automatically adds tasks to itself when I go on trips or devices run low on power, etc. It’s some of my best intentions pushing me forwards.

For most of you, it wouldn’t work. For me 3 years ago, parts of it wouldn’t have seemed valuable.

It’s value is that it was created to do a single, but incredibly useful thing, and now years later, it has become an invaluable tool in my working day.

When you create a structure from nothing, it has the ability to become exactly the tool you need. It could be a to-do list, a workflow, an intrapreneurship, a way of exercising, whatever you need. Just start with the most simple version and add parts necessary to improve it towards its purpose. You can get premade solutions and if they work that’s great, but don’t accept them as the only solution. Having the perfect tool/structure is worth the small and incremental effort required and something that’s hard to describe once you have it.

The only thing better, is having a web of structures all pushing towards a singular goal, with the effort, scrutiny and trust of others.

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