Archive for the ‘Interim COO’ Category

Six Tips to Demystify Hiring a COO for a High-Growth Company

13 April 2018

Executive Recruiters sometimes say the most difficult C-Suite search is finding the right COO. Even agreeing on the job description can be a battle! It doesn’t need to be so hard!  Here are 6 tips to demystify the process.

  1. Understand Why It’s Difficult: A problem is easier to solve if you understand the root cause.  The COO role differs from all other C-Suite roles for one reason: while other C-Level jobs are defined in relation to the work to be done, the COO’s role is mostly defined in relation to the CEO as an individual.  From company to company, the role of COO is hugely varied, depending on (a) the needs of the company and, even more importantly, on (b) the strengths — and the desires — of the particular CEO.
  2. Pick One of the 7 Types of COO’s: The first requirement is to pick the “type” of COO needed.  There are as many as seven different “types” of COO’s as listed later. Each of these different types arises from the different motives behind creating the position in the first place.  Once you agree on these motives, picking the type is easy.
  3. NOW Tackle the Job Description: Only after you’ve agreed on your motive for hiring a COO — and you’ve picked the type – can you now create the COO’s job description; which things will s/he do (and which things will the CEO still do.)  Define the COO’s role to be complimentary to the particular CEO.  Define the roles so the CEO can focus on the things at which s/he excels and, hopefully, enjoys.
  4. Agree on Decision Making Authority: One of the toughest things to determine is which decisions the CEO is now going to relinquish to the COO. You’ll not be able to attract a top-notch COO if this is not discussed in advance.  Define clear decision-making “rights” for the COO, with explicit and reasonable lines of demarcation between CEO and COO decision making responsibilities.
  5. The Last Remaining Hurdle: Throughout the recruiting process you need to determine two more things:
    1. Establishment of Trust— The most important aspect of a successful CEO-COO relationship is the establishment of trust.  Trust begins with the CEO coming to terms with why a COO is even being added to the C-Suite.  The CEO must then convey the “why” to any prospective COO.
    2. Respect— The CEO and COO must have mutual respect. They need to recognize and appreciate the skills each brings. And they must be completely open with each other. This is the “chemistry” that people often speak of and it must be determined before the COO is hired.
  6. A Short-Term Alternative – an Interim COO: The process or specing and then hiring a COO can be daunting, particularly if it takes a long time for the CEO and the Board to work through all the above.  If that’s the case – and if you have immediate needs — you might consider bringing in a seasoned Interim COO while you work through the process.  This should NOT be a “try-and-buy” situation, but rather someone who can be an extra set of hands to “get stuff done” while the CEO and the Board work through the process.  In addition to getting stuff done, a good Interim COO can help you get through the above process more quickly.

Seven Different COO Roles

As noted earlier, the different types of COO’s arise from the different motives behind creating the position in the first place.  Note: In some companies, the COO could play two roles at the same time.

Seven Types of COO’s:

  • Executor.  Execute strategy; deliver day-to-day results.
  • Change Agent.  Lead a specific strategic imperative, such as a turnaround, a major organizational change, or a planned rapid expansion.
  • Mentor.  Mentor a young or inexperienced CEO (often a founder). As the CEO develops, this COO role will either disappear or be heavily restructured.
  • CEO’s “Other Half.”  If CEO is the kind of person who works best with a partner.
  • Heir-apparent.  To groom—or test—a company’s CEO-elect.
  • Important Team Player.  Promote to the COO role an executive considered too valuable to lose.

What I Do:  I am a professional Interim CEO or COO.  Since 2000 I have been asked 24 times by investors and/or board members to jump into a company on an interim basis to help the company get started, restarted, or grow to the next level. I am an agent of change.  LinkedIn  www.linkedin.com/in/DesmondPieri

 

Workbar Gig Finished; Perfect Example of when a Founding CEO should hire an Interim COO

13 March 2018

Interim

Most startup CEO’s would love a COO but can’t afford it.  So they do the work themselves, even though “COO work” is not what they love.  My just-finished Interim COO gig at Workbar is a perfect example of where the short-term expense of an Interim COO might be the way to go.

Workbar is Boston’s original coworking space and has a hub-and-spoke network of 20 locations, each with a unique “four-neighborhood” design.  As interim COO, I revamped the management team of this 30-person company, implementing processes to get the company organized, focused, and in sync.  As a team, we migrated the company so it can sustain rapid growth in Greater Boston and beyond.

Whether interim or long term, it is important that the skills of a COO complement those of the CEO, as detailed in 9 Reasons Why Your Startup Needs a Mysterious, Unsung Hero..

What I Do:  I am a professional interim CEO or COO.  Since 2000 I have completed over 20 interim roles in the US and abroad, from pure startups to companies with $25 million in revenue.  I am an agent of change, helping companies get started, restarted, or grow to the next level.  LinkedIn  www.linkedin.com/in/DesmondPieri

9 Reasons Why Your Startup Needs a Mysterious, Unsung Hero

11 February 2018

imagesEvery business — even a startup — needs a mysterious, unsung hero, a COO.

Importance: A COO — particularly one with lots of broad exposure — knows which levers to pull to make each functional area work in a coordinated way, needed for a startup to succeed.

Don’t Wait Too Long: Most startups wait too long to hire a COO.  Hire immediately if you produce a physical product – or if the founder/CEO is immersed in building the technology. Hire when you hit product/market fit if you build digital products.

Why “Mysterious” : Per this Harvard Business Review article, the role of Chief Operating Officer is the most mysterious and misunderstood position because of the complexity and diversity of responsibilities.

Why “Unsung”? The COO always expects to be blamed, yet knows they will miss out on the praise.

Custom: Per Etsy COO, the COO role needs to be (more…)

MassChallenge – Another Successful Interim Assignment

21 January 2016

HQ Standard_VerticalI have been involved with MassChallenge since its inception, mentoring over a dozen companies.  Some went on to become cash prize winners, and most are still on-going concerns. I have also completed three interim assignments, helping MassChallenge itself by working on key operational initiatives. Most recently as Interim COO I implemented organizational changes so we could take the best practices from our Boston accelerator and apply them to the successful launch of MassChallenge UK, our first international in-country program. In 2015 we welcomed 90 startups to our London accelerator while spending $500k under budget. Based on what we learned in the UK, we created a “Play Book” to permit the simultaneous and efficient expansion of MassChallenge to multiple cities around the world, with three cities –- Jerusalem, Geneva, and Mexico City — added in 2016 vs. a plan for two cities. I once again will mentor companies in 2016.

Completed 15th Interim CEO Gig in 14 Years

9 April 2014

CSM LogoAs with all of 15 interim gigs, the success we had over the last year when I was Interim CEO at Cambridge Sound Management is due to the people.   As my first boss said, “Success in business is all about the people.” Hire good people. Train them. Motivate them. Empower them.

I’ve found this to be true no matter what industry I’ve been in and no matter what size the company.

CSM is the number one sound masking company in the world. It’s main product line, QtPro is based on patented technology and is used by over 40% of the Fortune 100 companies to protect speech privacy and to (more…)

Founding CEOs; How Not to Get Fired by Your VC

15 October 2011

When I was signing up for this year’s unConference, I was reminded how last year’s event was great because of the impromptu breakout sessions where it was fair game to discuss controversial subjects.  I wish every founding CEO could have been at last year’s session titled, “How founding CEOs can transition from visionary to leader.”  Though that was the title, it was clear from the get-go that this session was really about, “How founding CEOs can avoid getting fired before they ever make that transition from visionary to leader.”  Eric Paley and Katie Rae, the session leaders, did a great job covering this controversial subject, focusing on solutions to this common problem.

For the last decade, I have been “up close and personal” with the subject of founding CEOs getting fired.  As interim CEO at a half dozen companies I bridged the gap after a founding CEO was let go by his investors.  And as interim COO at another half dozen companies I helped the founding CEO endure the pressures of their job.  (As one founding CEO said when he called asking for help, “Des, I’m one Board meeting away from getting fired.  Can you give me a hand?”)

In last year’s unConference session, people had many reasons why founding CEOs get fired “early and often.”  The reasons that resonated with me are: (more…)

Google Ventures & August Capital announce they are funding my current company, RelayRides.

15 December 2010

Since summer, I’ve been interim COO at RelayRides, the world’s first neighbor-to-neighbor carsharing service.  I work for founding CEO Shelby Clark.  Yesterday we announced funding from August Capital and Google Ventures.

RelayRides is an innovative twist on the traditional carsharing model, ala Zipcar.  I believe our business model will have an important impact on the young and rapidly growing $12.5B global carsharing industry. Adding neighbor-to-neighbor carsharing to a community with traditional carsharing is one of those instances when one plus one equals more than two, as detailed here.

RelayRides is a perfect example of Collaborative Consumption. Rather than putting new cars on the road like other carsharing services, RelayRides goes the eco-friendly route by leveraging existing, often idle autos.  Neighbors help each other.  Car owners recover some of the costs of owning an expensive asset while they simultaneously provide a new, convenient transportation option for their neighbors in need of a car.

After operating in Cambridge for six months, Tuesday we launched our second city, San Francisco, generating a slew of great press.

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Question: When is someone who works less hours the better employee?

9 October 2010

Answer:  When they focus on efficiency, not time.

I advise young founding CEOs, either in my role as interim COO or as a “CEO Coach.”  A common issue they raise is their frustration with an employee who does not work incredibly long hours.  I struggled with this until I recalled that, when I was their age, I felt the same way!  I’ve been managing since I was 23 and, for about a decade, I too was impressed with an employee who worked the longest hours.

But then I hired Chris Pooley and he taught me that (more…)

The secret to a successful startup? A great idea being worked on by people with three characteristics you’ll not find on a resume

11 September 2010

Through the MassChallenge Mentoring Program, I’ve been spending three hours each week advising RelayRides, a company with a great idea – peer-to-peer car sharing – that’s smack in the middle of a strong new movement, Collaborative Consumption as written about in The Economist and by Leigh Buchanan in Inc, Clive Thompson in Wired, and Jenna Wortham in The New York Times.

Late on Tuesday, the founder, Shelby Clark said, “Instead of just advising me, why don’t you just join us to accelerate our growth?” After a handshake agreement, I started that day as part-time interim COO.  By 9 PM I was reminded that what it takes to turn a great idea into a successful company is (more…)