New Zealand is preparing to exit lockdown and return to a resemblance of normality.
We’ll forgo the hugs and high fives we want to give teammates, my pack training runs will have to wait a bit longer, but shops will reopen, and we’ll get back to some of our old routines.
Kids will return to school
But I’ll miss weekday family breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Something we’d never managed to accomplish pre-covid.
We’ve been working, but those who couldn’t work from home, join us.
Retail, services, hospitality and tourism in its new form can start to piece things back together. It’s a fantastic time to reprioritise. Re-evaluate priorities and what will be the new normal.
There’s plenty of opportunity
The world will be watching to some extent, as we’re the class that the teacher let out to play after the rain. Everyones gonna be envious, and looking out the window. If we make it all muddy, the others will blame us for their teacher keeping them back longer. Time to keep it green and impress with our playground moves!
Fundamentals haven’t changed. Solid solutions, to your client’s big problems, still win.
At FileInvite, our Go Back To Market plan is executing on more of the same tech that’s powering professionals to collect sensitive documents remotely. We’re already seeing that barriers are falling globally and that in the software space, being local is less of an issue.
Here’s some thoughts from a marketing perspective
1. Use your Zoom skills, and ability to focus on needle moving activities, to your advantage. The last months haven’t been distraction free at home. Finding big levers to shift the needle has been even more important. I’d also say: chase big wins, even if they’re on the other side of the world, or local clients you thought you were too small to tackle.
2. The advertising space has had a massive shake up. Being one of the first countries exiting lockdown gives New Zealand a great First Mover Advantage. With Travel and Hospo adjusting, I think we’ll see some big changes in ROI.
3. Marketing with conviction and a compelling value prop will be key. There’s going to be a lot of all nighters as the winning teams, the ones that will have money to spend, are going to be busy earning, building their businesses back up they’ll want no nonsense or no fuss solutions.
4. I also hope we’ll see some quality creative and something different to the current loop of: “Now more than ever, in these challenging/difficult times, we’re here for you, it’s about the people, united in our separation, and thanking our front line staff, (who help you buying our stuff)”.
And a little less unprecedented unprecedentedness please.
What about you?
How are you? Can I help with anything? How have your priorities shifted?
In work and in life I’ve tried to follow a continuous beta mantra.
Always be testing, upgrading and improving.
\\ This is a sidestep from my classic business and marketing posts, but bear with me.
One thing I’ve been trying lately is daily journaling. I haven’t perfected it and I use an alarm still to prompt me every morning to do it.
It’s a practice that many of the world leaders, smart investors and creatives use to improve. Of those interviewed for Tim Ferris’ book Tools of Titans, a majority had daily practices of: journaling, meditation, waking early, physical activity and shocks to the system (either intermittent fasting or cold water immersion).
The book’s a good read BTW, or digest each podcast for the whole story, uncategorised.
Here’s a little video with the details (sorry if you’ve seen this on IGTV)
We often get quite granular with our KPIs and goals, but how often do we really review what’s working?
Here’s the template I use as a prompt.
What went well What am I grateful for and what went well yesterday I can be proud of and replicate.
Today’s three Things that if I get them done will move the needle
Today’s experiment What am I going to try today. Something new.
What didn’t work? What do I need to follow up? What can I celebrate? Who should I connect with and connect to someone?
What can I share that I’ve found useful?
Hope you guys find this useful.
Let me know if you’ve got a Journaling tip, habit or continuous beta effort in play.
Do this weekly. Heck daily – if you’re brave enough. Challenge your team to do regular retrospectives.
The biggest #GROWTHHACK I can think of is consistent and regular review of:
– What worked?
– What didn’t?
– What are we going to change?
The best organisations have mastered this rapid iteration and constant velocity of improvement. Taking cues from Ray Dalio’s Principles – the top 1% document their change decisions so that even the way they learn (and make decisions) evolves.
I’m an Achilles heel, but I know it! The nature of our industry implies we have teachers, head teachers, academic leaders and a principal or CEO.
This centralised hierarchical structure means we have clear interfaces with the government and regulatory bodies, roles with built in dependancies, and bottlenecks when it comes to decisions. From a risk perspective these bottlenecks are strategic weak points. Heck even my current job title, Head of Marketing, sounds ripe for lopping off and leaving a lifeless directionless body…
It’s an org structure that historically has been well adopted, but is it the right structure for today’s VUCA world?
Beyond my KPIs as a Marketing Director, I see my role in any organisation as head of distribution. Where possible moving from a centralised system to a distributed model. At least in terms of our marketing capacity if not the wider organisation.
Creating scaffolding. Enabling with tools that allow open records, transparency around actions and accountability, and systems that empower my team to make decisions that better serve customers.
So why did the centralised systems form?
When we identify chaos our first reaction is to classify what we’re seeing, create order and build complex systems to make the chaos understandable and tolerable. It’s why we have forms, policies, procedures and why everyone (except well intended guests and relatives) puts the coffee cups back in the same spot. It creates efficiency.
But at the start, who decides if your draw goes knife-fork-spoon or spoon-fork-knife?
Historically we had tribal leaders that knew what to do and could make decisions. Without procedures or scaffolding, we would look to those leaders for guidance. It seemed like the right way to run a company. When you get a lot of bodies together it seemed easier to control them through orders and one commanding voice. Think of that guy on the megaphone at a busy ferry terminal or at the start of a marathon, barking orders usually on a platform in a top down fashion.
A tribal leader was usually, in Darwinistic fashion, the toughest or strongest one that could win the battles.
Decentralised Was A Step Forward
As globalism spread, we realised that a certain degree of decentralisation had to occur. If just, as an example, to scale and let the East India Company make decisions that couldn’t be shipped back and forth like goods every month.
Progressing slightly, decentralised movements gave some resilience. Each node has a head and the required body parts to function. But the constant battle is to standardise processes and procedures again in order to make sense of the differing markets. You loose economies of scale, as you gain some independence and diversity of revenue.
Distributed Independent Organisms – Starfish over Spiders
Modern first world society has become so dependent on centralised structures that we are all just 9 meals away from anarchy. So how do we mitigate this reliance? Re-wilding and home grown organics maybe? We’d be distributed for sure.
What if we look back beyond our assumption that an organisation is a tribe that needs leadership. What if we saw it as an organism?
Highly responsive, naturally resilient and adaptive, distributed systems and organisations cannot be controlled. This is in fact the basis of internet, a distributed system.
Here are a few more examples:
Wikipedia – Where no one author or contributor is responsible for verifying an entry, it has become a very strong source of basic encyclopaedic knowledge.
Terrorist cells – Modern terrorist cells are very hard to immobilise as each cell operates independently and can do so without revealing themselves through communication with others. In fact the most effective counterterrorist efforts have been conducted in cell like, rogue units, operating disconnected from the typical structured (predictable and traceable) Seal and SAS efforts.
Epidemics – AIDS and Bird flu are particularly hard to fight as our antibacterial usage struggles to combat continuous mutation and developing separate strains.
Enspiral (New Zealand) a cohort of self managing, distri ventures.
But why create something so organic/different from our current societal norms Nick?
Are generation X,Y and Z customer and cause, not company focused?
Centralised organisations are very internally focused and looking up for guidance. Internal noise in many instances can drown out the outside world. At the very least it can leave your speech filled with acronyms and make communication with customers difficult.
Leaders now need to focus on managing the environment, connecting people with the purpose of the organisation and maintaining accountability.
Is it time to remove our exoskeleton and open up a connection with the customer?
Should we let the customer decide or lead the way?
Developing small distributed agile teams I believe is the way to go. It will take a while, and many may never to shed their hierarchies.
Design thinking and distributed teams are a good step in the right direction.
My biggest lesson of 2017? WEAK TIES ARE A GOLDMINE!
TL/DR: The more random and diverse my network — the more my career grows and the more exciting (ad)ventures become. Take thirty seconds to think through your conversations in January. Connect your contacts to someone that could help in the comments below.
At the time I could reach every user on Facebook, with just 2.8 degrees of separation.
Here on LinkedIn, I connect to add value. There’s a great mix, of English, Russian, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese in my feed each day. Contrasting opinions, debates, and support. I can manage the egos, clickbait, and fluff.
This variety sparks creativity, innovation, and alternatives.
I encourage you all in 2018 to make a new connection each month, with a personal invite, to someone different.
WHY SEEK DIVERSITY?
What got you into a mess won’t get you out of it.
A wise man knows how little he knows. Think through an idea in another language or from the perspective of another culture. If you can’t, ask a friend who does. They might have a solution. Side note, Empathy is gold.
Two heads are better than one.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. — Jim Rhone
If you really want to grow you need to be spending time with people that are more evolved than you. I’m not calling you an ape or neanderthal, but I want to complete an Ultra Marathon, so I’m not spending time doing 5k park runs with amateurs in skate shoes.
Hemmingway was such a successful writer because of the people he connected with and the scene he was in. Tim Ferriss, Benjamin Franklin, Harrison Ford — all accredit their success through proactively building the right connections with people they felt embarrassed and amateur around.
I know someone who works there.
If you’re in business development and just connect with industry or those in #bizdev your echo chamber will never reverberate with the sound of leads.
If you ever need to make a move or switch roles, your workmates and previous colleagues aren’t as much help as a connection at a prospective employer. I’m yet to secure a role through a recruitment agent, maybe in the future one will break this streak.
Procurement and finance will love you if you can source supplies at mates rates.
There’s a reason old boys networks, Lions clubs, Rotary and the Freemasons continue to grow.
Get off the internet and out to Meetups, coworking spaces or Creative Mornings. Attend a new one every other month.
Use your contacts, ask for recommendations.
Get a hobby, run with strangers (note with not after, that gets you new friends and a lot less freedom to attend Meetups).
Join the local business council.
Join the Rotary or Lions club. Join the Bikers club?
Use my contacts — I’d be more than happy to make a connection?
Use this article. Ask for contacts in the comments.
Thanks for reading. If you’re feeling generous, connect me with someone you think I or others should know in the comments below!
If they ever perfect teleportation I’ll be a late adopter. Sure it would save time but for so many events arriving or getting there is the best part. Think of the pilgrimages, flying around the Sugarloaf mountain into Rio de Janeiro, or into Manhattan from JFK in a yellow cab.
All too often in business we are far too focused on the end goal and ignore the journey, the learning it offers and the chance to improve as we go.
More importantly, we don’t give proper recognition to progress. Why do we wait until a project is complete rather than celebrating the little wins along the way? Quick wins deserve celebrations too!
So many project wins are an anticlimax that could be chopped into micro moments of merriment!
A framework exists for working in incremental micro-moments, that creates agility, flexibility, and engagement. Agile Project Management is spreading throughout the organisation, not just in software development teams.
Why move to Agile Project Management?
May teams move to Agile project management because they can see the productivity and velocity benefits, or they like the idea of being able to change the product being created as they go – a misguided idea. The real benefits I think are in the way teams are recognised and released to do their best work.
The Scrum Tight Four: Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-Ups, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective
Beyond their original intent – helping software teams build better products – the Scrum framework is fantastic for employee engagement.
A recent Gallup poll suggests 30% of employees strongly agree that their manager involves them in goal setting. Employees whose managers involved them in goal setting are 3.6x more likely than other employees to be engaged.
Sprint planning before each period of work allows the Product Owner to prioritise and refine the stories (goals) they wish to complete for the sprint. AND it involves the team doing the work, they help form the solution, how long it will take and what done looks like. They have ownership of the goal.
Every day the team communicate with each other (not to their boss) what they have done since last time, what they are working on today and what is impeding their work.
Done – creates a sense of belonging, responsibility and a little bit of competitiveness and support. If one team member is ahead the others might compete to get more done, or offer support to someone who is struggling.
Doing – lets the team see what they aim to accomplish, they can see if others are in need and where there are external dependencies, they can choose to cooperate or collaborate. My sales teams often prioritise between themselves when there is a queue to get something done externally.
Impediments – any impediments should be minimised but when all the developers are held up by something it needs fixing and you have strength in numbers to get it done.
At the end of the sprint, the team gets to show off the value they have created for customers. Internally, within the team this creates connection as they see how each element is coming together to form a whole. Externally, it allows others to see what the day to day heads down grind is accomplishing. The regular and often reviews create recognition and emphasises the feeling of accomplishment.
Two of the US Navy’s highest performing leaders Leif Babin and Jocko Willink will tell you that there’s no such thing as a perfect team. Circumstances and opponents change, a team must constantly grow. What makes a ‘high performing’ team is their discipline and constant analysis of their performance.
“Don’t count on motivation, count on discipline” – Jocko Willink
Retrospectives allow you to reflect on what’s working, what’s broken and what you’ll do differently next time. The team develops ownership of their performance and what they will do to improve it.
What’s key to a great Retrospective is that it is impersonal. It’s not a time for blaming others, it’s about taking ownership and changing actions for better outcomes. It’s also a time for reflecting on what’s working and doing more of that!
Create discipline around relentlessly doing what it takes to succeed.
Discipline di.sci.pline ˈdɪsɪplɪn: Train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.
Stickers and Scars
The daily Scrum and the scrum environment always focus on a visible Taskboard. A Whiteboard containing the teams Sprint goals, backlog items, tasks, tasks in progress, “DONE” items and the daily Sprint Burndown chart.
DONE – The DONE column is a spot for STICKERS, patches, and signs of the team’s accomplishments. Every completed Story and Epic is something to hold up, be proud of and stick to the wall for others to see. Pin release feedback, customer star ratings and industry awards to those stickers and attribute them and the team’s actions to your wins.
SCARS – Scars are where strong teams take the lead. They pin their failures right beside their stickers. Reminders of what not to do with analysis and actions from it.
Take Action with Agile
I’m starting personal analysis now but my guess is teams using the Agile framework that recognise Superstars regularly will out-perform those who get a complement sandwich and annual bonus.
If you’re interested in boosting engagement, velocity, visibility and transparency in your teams by adopting Agile practices, get in touch.