How to avoid pitfalls and make scaling a success

The burning question on every CTO’s lips: How do you scale successfully?

And who better to answer that question than an expert panel?
Leading the charge was Ed Conolly, Group CTO at OVO Energy, Jon Mullen, Associate Director, Product Engineering Director at and our very own Founder of 101 Ways, Kelly Waters.

With a room full of experienced CTOs and tech leads ready to discuss their challenges, host Jamie North asked each attendee what they really wanted to know about scaling. Unsurprisingly,  questions about values, culture and talent acquisition came up time and again. As there wasn’t time to answer them all, we chose the top three and let the panel do what they do best; advise.

Q1 – How can you stay true to company values as you scale?

Kelly – It starts at the beginning. With a startup you need to be deliberate about the values you want to have and then hire people who share them. If you don’t do this when you start small, and later try to put a culture on them, when you scale you run into problems when people and their views fragment. Leadership needs to embody the values it professes to hold.

Ed – Values need to be consistent, concise and visible; there’s no point in having 100 values and talking about them once a year. You should allow interpretation but still have some boundaries around them so people don’t stray too far from the initial intent.

Jon – If you have several sites, respect the values and position of each. Look at the values that are transferable from the main office and which ones aren’t. One size doesn’t fit all and sometimes it works better to embrace differences.

E – Co-located teams can be an advantage because they can understand the local market and attract previously untapped talent. Sometimes you strike gold with a certain ethos and the torch can be carried forward as you grow. But rather than inhibit people’s freedom to move between locations, you should be encouraging (and have a budget for) travel and allow shared deliverables so the teams have something to work on together. But independence is still important – if you fail to achieve it then you will fail velocity.

Q2 – How do you attract and retain talent during periods of growth?

– You need to spend time on internal processes and focus on what you are trying to achieve when scaling. If you scale faster than the resilience of your hiring process, you’ll take a long-term hit. Investing at the start will lead to a higher acceptance rate.

– It’s important not to hang around so your interview process should be a slick, impressive experience and if possible, offer the opportunity for people to see the environment in which they’ll be working. Crucially, don’t waste time; have an engineer profile and make it clear why you’re interviewing that person and once it’s over, be quick with your ‘yes’ / ‘no’. Delay will result in losing good people, and people in the same industry talk so it may be damaging to your company in respect of future hires.

– Once you’ve hired new people, add them to existing teams rather than creating new ones. While the teams may be bigger than you’d like, the new hires can tag along and learn. From experience, they pick things up more quickly this way. You can then split the bigger teams and then repeat as you grow.
Also, there is an assumption that everyone wants to climb the career ladder and become a manager, but this isn’t always the case. Good leadership recognises this. Find other ways for someone to contribute that doesn’t involve management if they want to stay an engineer.,

– It can help to remove superfluous job titles and introduce internal levels that proffer increased responsibility and pay benefits for those that aren’t interested in the ‘traditional’ route.

Q3 – If you could only give one tip to those ready to scale, what would it be?

J –
There is a tendency to create an empire and lots of layers when you scale. I always say grow when you have to and build something great, not just because you want to. Give authority and autonomy to your teams and you will reap the rewards. It’s all about trust.

– When companies scale, responsibility is often taken away from engineers. As such, ownership is also taken away. Remember central teams are there to support you.

– Maintain your recruitment standards. Don’t lower the bar because it will come back to haunt you!

If you’re looking for more advice on how to scale, please contact us at

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

Six Actionable Nuggets of Advice for Becoming a First-time Technology NED

If the pandemic has taught companies anything it’s that tech is not something that you put off and think about ‘later’. The last year has seen organisations go through huge digital transformations, whether planned or otherwise. And for those that aren’t technology-based companies, getting the right board-level advice can not only be hard to find, but the difference between success

Read More »

Culture, Skills, and Capabilities // How to become a more data-driven organisation

In our whitepaper “How to become a more data-driven organisation”, we wrote about the five steps that an organisation would need to take, which are: Outcomes: Defining goals and metrics to ensure clear and measurable outcomes Analytics: Implementing and sharing the analytics to improve data-driven decision making Innovation: Testing assumptions through hypothesis testing and learning Data Platform: Gaining new insights

Read More »

Data Platform // How to become a more data-driven organisation

This is the fourth article in our series on “How to become a more data-driven organisation”, and we are going to be focusing on Data Platforms. It is at this point that most people start to dive deep into the technical aspects of Data Lakes vs Data Warehouses, but we want to bring us back up a level and ask

Read More »

Search the Blog

Agile Management Made Easy!

All About Agile

By Kelly Waters

“’Agile’ is one of the biggest buzzwords of the last decade. Agile methods often come across as rather more complicated than they really are. This book is an attempt to unravel that complexity. To simplify the concepts. This book breaks the concepts into small bite-sized pieces that are easy to understand and easy to implement and delivers the message in a friendly and conversational style. is one of the most popular blogs about agile on the web. ”

Kelly Waters

Agile 101 is available to purchase. GAME ON!

Agile 101

Emma Hopkinson-Spark

“Whilst there are lots of ways you can vary the game depending on the teams you have and the learning outcomes you want, the basic flow of the game play is common to all.”
Emma Hopkinson-Spark

Why did we make the game?

How to play the game?


101 Ways Limited
145 City Rd
United Kingdom


101 Ways BV
Weesperstraat 61-105
1018 VN Amsterdam

Contact Us

If you would like to get in touch with one of the team at 101 Ways, then please fill out the form below or email us at