36. What does a good COO framework look like?

Blog post description.In this episode we discuss: What does a good COO framework look like? We are joined by Simon Wakeman, former COO of TPXimpact and creator of the B3 Framework.

3/28/20244 min read

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We chat about the following:

  • Are investment bets the responsibility of the COO? 

  • What is an operating model? 

  • What is minimum viable governance? How much process is too much process? 

  • How to best manage a risk register to make it useful

  • What is in the “systems” box? 

  • How do you structure data teams? 

  • What are some practices around cadences? 



I help founders in post-seed and series A technology businesses to scale their operations and create resilient organisations. 

I’ve created and used the B3 framework® to enable businesses with 25 to 250 people to successfully grow at pace.

Before becoming an independent interim COO, consultant and advisor I held senior operational leadership roles in two scaling technology businesses. The first - a digital business - I led from 15 people / £1.6m revenue to 40 people / £3m revenue. The second - a technology and design business - grew from 361 people / £31.5m revenue to 700 people / £83m in around three years. 

My career experience includes co-founder, MD, COO and non-exec director roles in growth companies, including successful exits across listed and privately held businesses.

  • Creating high-performance companies with a CEO framework. 0:06

    • Brandon and Bethany discuss their spouses' reactions to their podcast, with Bethany's husband being surprised by her comment that being married is not part of her identity.

    • They welcome Simon Wakeman, former CEO of TI px impact, as their guest to discuss his B three framework for building highly performant organizations.

    • Brandon M: Foundation layer of CEO framework includes why do we exist, what do we do, and how do we do it.

    • Bethany: Operating model definition lacks clarity, with inconsistent examples across companies.

    • Brandon M: Building the organisation layer, decision making is hard due to changing business structures and roles, but it's critical for scaling companies to codify decision-making processes and delegate responsibility.

    • Bethany: Finance models are useful for making calculated risks and investment bets, but they need to be holistically thought through with the CEO and leadership team to ensure the right forecast model is created for cash burn and expectations management.

  • Business framework for scaling startups. 7:16

    • Bethany and Brandon discuss the importance of data ownership and security in business, with Bethany emphasizing the need for a "Source of Truth" and data security foundations to support data-driven decision-making.

    • Bethany highlights the importance of data in decision-making, emphasizing that even small amounts of data can be valuable for directional insights.

    • Bethany and Brandon discuss the four layers of their framework, including cadence and communications, leadership, performance, processes, systems, and standards.

  • Operating models and their importance in business. 11:32

    • Simon Wakeman defines operating model as a blueprint for turning strategy into reality, focusing on how to source customers, deliver value, and partner with others.

    • Bethany seeks clarification on operating model, which Simon explains as a high-level summary of how a business creates value, turning strategy into a functioning business.

    • Simon Wakeman emphasizes the importance of creating a clear and concise operating model for businesses, which should describe how the company creates value on a single page.

    • He suggests using a template to help structure the operating model, but notes that the level of detail and complexity will depend on the type of business and its stage of growth.

  • Organizational governance and decision-making. 16:02

    • Simon Wakeman: Distributed team was deliberately chosen for tech business to address resourcing challenges.

    • Minimum Viable Governance means legal duties of directors, policies, and risk management processes for coherent functioning.

    • Simon Wakeman: Governance should push autonomy and decision-making to the edges of the organization, with appropriate safeguards to ensure competency.

    • Bethany: Too much process can stifle innovation, emphasizing people's brains and good decisions over rules is key.

  • Governance in scaleups, risk management, and crisis communications. 21:11

    • Brandon M and Bethany discuss governance in scaleups, focusing on risk management and crisis communications.

  • Risk management, systems ownership, and data quality in business. 22:58

    • Bethany suggests identifying the right people to engage in risk management, such as critical thinkers like herself and structured thinkers like the CFO or ops director.

    • Simon Wakeman agrees that these individuals are often the ones who take the lead in risk management and convene groups to do the hard work.

    • Simon Wakeman emphasizes the importance of understanding and owning technology in a business, particularly in the early scaling phase, to avoid messy systems architecture and inconsistent data.

    • He highlights the need for a clear data model to underpin the business and integrate systems effectively, particularly as AI and augmentation technologies become more prevalent.

    • Simon Wakeman suggests a more decentralized approach to ops, with greater autonomy for people, but also a governing framework to ensure coherence and value creation across the organization.

    • Simon believes tech leadership should own providing data and capabilities, while CFO should define user needs and bring together quality information for decision-making.

  • Creating a cohesive business system through meetings and alignment. 29:16

    • Bethany and Simon discuss the importance of cadence in organizations, including recurring meetings, to align teams and create a sense of unity.

    • Simon Wakeman emphasizes the importance of understanding how different parts of a business are linked together and making deliberate choices about how to structure and run the business.

    • He encourages listeners to regularly review and adjust their business systems as the company grows to maintain balance and coherence.