Build newsletter

Learn how to build a brilliant business

Build is my email newsletter for founders, leaders and investors interested in building sustainable and resilient businesses. It features insights, techniques & thinking for those navigating the ups-and-downs of the growth journey and developing their own leadership along the way.

Where do brilliant teams come from?

If we look at the great teams in the worlds of sport and business, it’s clear they don’t happen by accident. Creating a team that’s … Read More

Pastiche in business

I had an initial conversation with a founder recently that stuck with me. The founder told me in detail about the company they were creating. … Read More

How role definition drives growth

This month I’ve been working on an interesting project helping a business define roles. For start-ups moving into a scaling phase, founders often wrestle with … Read More

What I really learnt then

Twelve months ago I left behind the relative comfort of being part of a business leadership team and the monthly salary that came with it … Read More

Books for leaders – my recommendations

I read a lot of business books. I’ve read some that were instantly forgettable. Yet some are so thought provoking and useful that I refer … Read More

Congruence is underrated

Many founders see themselves as visionaries. They hold their ambition for the future they will create and are strongly driven to bring it into reality. … Read More

There’s no such thing as a growth hack

Recently a client told me I have a “no such thing as a growth hack” speech. She explained that on several occasions, I’ve pushed back … Read More

The real role of leaders

Over the past five months I’ve interviewed more than 50 founders in scaling businesses for a project I’m working on. As I review the interview … Read More

Holding to account

I’ve been working with a product scale-up business to create the conditions for a culture of greater accountability in their business. In one conversation we … Read More

The craft of company building

This year I’ve interviewed more than 50 founders about their experiences building businesses through the seed and series A stages. I’ve been struck by two … Read More

Working with organisational debt

Technologists often talk about technical debt. It’s the accumulation over time of decisions that prioritise short term speed over well-designed code. Technical debt isn’t always … Read More

Ultra running & leading scale-ups

Last weekend I finished my first 50 mile ultra run. With 4000 metres of climbing and a lot of mud in England’s Lake District, it … Read More

How can founders get people to do what they need them to do?

I’ve been speaking to a lot of founders in scaling businesses recently. When they talk about challenges they face, they often talk about a common … Read More

Designing leadership teams in scaling businesses

“What’s the right structure for my leadership team?” This is one of the most common question I come across in conversations with founders who are … Read More

Building a company – introducing the B3 framework

Founders and CEOs talk a lot about scaling businesses, but typically pay a lot less attention to building the organisation that lies behind any successfully … Read More

Systems thinking in scaling business

Systems thinking is a way of thinking about your business. It helps leaders better understand their organisation and how to maximise their impact. I’ve spent … Read More

Founder to CEO?

Great founders don’t necessarily make great CEOs. Being deliberate about founder role transitions is often overlooked in scaling businesses. Growing a business means getting comfortable … Read More

Escape from firefighting

Firefighting. Fire drills. Chaos. Pulled from pillar to post. Overwhelmed. I hear those words a lot in my conversations with founder CEOs in growth businesses. … Read More

Feeling the mountain

Recently I was talking with Lesley – a ski instructor – about her work helping people improve their skiing. She talked about the importance of … Read More

Deciding on deciding

Businesses run on decisions. They control the flow of work in your business. Paying attention to how and when they’re made as well as who … Read More

Process isn’t boring

Working with process gets a bad press in many creative businesses. Process work is stereotyped as stifling creativity and restricting individual autonomy. Laying out processes … Read More

Mise en place

Chefs know a lot goes into making consistently good restaurant food. Each dish is a detailed, time-critical project with high quality thresholds. Dishes need to … Read More

Lenses and mirrors in decision making

A colleague recently told me I was obsessed with lenses. Apparently I say a lot of things like: Ignoring my clumsy verbal constructs, I realised … Read More

Scaling leadership

As businesses grow, what they need from their leaders changes. Separating personal and business needs when thinking about this is hard, but important. A conversation … Read More

Building businesses with accountability

A lot’s talked in business about accountability, yet few people think about what it means. And plenty of people tie themselves in metaphorical knots. They … Read More

Pacing your business

Every business has a pace it can sustain indefinitely. Leaders need to find that pace and intentionally influence it as the business grows. Last weekend … Read More

Reducing friction

If you leave a boat in seawater for too long, barnacles will start attaching and growing. They glue themselves to the hull of your boat … Read More

Power in scaling businesses

Power tripping. Power games. Power hungry. All too often we talk about power negatively in businesses. But how we can use power to achieve growth … Read More

The value of organisation

How your business is organised is at the core of creating sustainable growth. It probably needs more focus than you give it. Businesses are usually … Read More

The starting line

I’m driven by a belief that there’s always a better way to do things. That passion extends to the puzzle of how we can best … Read More