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How Chris's team at BCG Digital Ventures scales startups with a scrum doc

An inside look at how Chris Green’s team repeatedly scales successful technology startups.

Chris Green, Product Manager at BCGDV


Check out Chris’s
used by BCG Digital Ventures.

From paper to product to business

A subsidiary of Boston Consulting Group,
(“BCGDV”) partners with large Fortune 500 companies to build innovative technology startups.

BCGDV has worked with some of the largest companies in the world to launch dozens of startups. Their portfolio spans across healthcare, property management, travel, natural language processing, and yes, even electric scooters 🛵.

That’s pretty impressive for a company that was founded just 6 years ago.


By combining the scrappiness of a startup with the reach of a global corporation, these joint ventures are able to scale from paper to product to business, often in less than 12 months.


How do they do it, you ask? The answer is
agile workstreams
.

Agile Workstreams

Before we dive into the day-to-day details, it’s worth taking a moment to understand BCGDV’s venture lifecycle.

Each venture typically goes through three phases:
Innovation → Idea (10–12 weeks)
Incubation → Product (4–12 months)
Commercialization → Business (up to 12 months)

If each of those phases is a destination on the map 🗺, workstreams are the engine that moves the venture along 🚚.

Inspired by agile methodology, a workstream is a temporary focus area for a small group of people. The model strikes just the right balance of focus, autonomy, and creativity to empower small teams to take giant strides of progress within the venture.

Chris Green, a PM at BCGDV, explains that the workstreams are constantly adapting to meet the needs of the venture, from building a feature, to fleshing out a business model or doing customer research.

“Depending on the size of the venture, we’ll either all work together on the same core workstream, or divide the team into groups of six or seven to tackle multiple workstreams.”

The path towards a successful product is often windy as the team traverses technical challenges, customer feedback, and competitive landscapes. And like a real stream, agile workstreams can easily get blocked up, diverted, or run dry.

Photo by
on

A flexible source of truth

Chris quickly realized that having the right tools is crucial to keeping the team’s workstreams flowing smoothly. The team bounced around a few different tools to run their workstreams and scrums. They started with a simple kanban board, then tried other collaborative tools before discovering Coda.

Chris’s team now uses Coda as the source of truth for all their ventures, including tasks, research notes, frameworks, and contact lists. The free-form document surface makes it easy to capture notes and ideas. Then, when those ideas turn into more concrete plans, tasks can be tracked within the same doc.


Chris likes that the doc can constantly adapt to the changing workstreams. “It’s become our all-in-one source of truth across the venture.”


Looking a little closer at the doc, each task has custom fields like owner, stage, due date, and priority. Like a spreadsheet, adding custom fields is as easy as adding a new column to the tasks table. Unlike in a spreadsheet, however, Chris can give each member of his team their own custom view with only the data that’s relevant to them.

Chris’s team meets at daily scrums, or standups, where each member of the team talks about the tasks they completed the day before, where they’re blocked, and what they’ll work on that day.

in the doc shows each person’s individual tasks, which the team updates every morning before the scrum meeting.


For example, when Chris opens this section, he sees just the tasks assigned to him. But when Lauren opens the same section, she sees just her tasks.

If you’re curious, this filter works using the USER() formula. It’s pretty magical 🤩

Then, when the team meets together for their daily scrum, they open the second section,
.

Like Personal Tasks, it also has a kanban view of team tasks. But instead of being filtered to the current user, it’s filtered by a select list control, which contains a list of the people on the team. When a person is selected, the board is filtered to show just that person’s tasks.


This setup makes it easy to go around the table and talk about each person’s workload during the scrum.

There’s also a follow-up checklist below the task board to keep track of small to-do’s that pop up during the scrum. To top it off, Chris built an automation to ping teammates when their tasks are overdue.

A doc as agile as the team

BCGDV’s agile workstream methodology allows them to scale successful ventures in record speed. They use a Coda doc to manage tasks and daily scrums. Just as quickly as the workstream hits a bend or the venture needs to pivot, Chris can adapt the Coda doc to fit their new process. The doc is as agile as the team.

“Each venture is very different than the last, but Coda can be customized to fit each scenario. We don’t have any itches that need to be scratched by other tools — we can instead focus on scaling successful ventures.”

What venture are you working on? Grab some inspiration from BCGDV’s
, and adapt it to fit your team.
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