Elaborate

The Flickr for videos.

A Netflix for video games.

The Airbnb for parking.

It’s a great way to describe what your product does, but do you and your team understand what that means? What are the characteristics of the original that you believe you have? What will ensure that you will still be in that same game in the future? Or is it a trick to cheat your stakeholders into believing you will get to a similar valuation?

It is a useful exercise to clarify what you mean by taking this useful shortcut. It brings your team together and creates alignment throughout the company. It gives you milestones to look forward to and a manifesto customers can buy into.

Start with:

  • What features matter to the original and to us alike.
  • What parts of both stories are common and what are not.
  • How do we ensure we continue on the same path.

Irrational

It does not tell much about our product.

What about talking about that feature we have spent all that money on?

We should probably play it safe.

I don’t think it’s going to work.

It’s nice, but it lacks appeal.

Why don’t we put a nice picture with a smart description of our product capabilities?

I am sure whoever is behind this genius campaign by 3M has heard some versions of this many times, as many marketers have. Some give up, some persist.

One way or the other, keep in mind that people are not moved by rationality.

Breath life into values

If you have company values and you don’t talk about them often, have them in company presentations, discuss them at company events, represent them with stories and examples, wrap them around basically everything your company does, then it’s better not to have company values at all.

A small example. We started our company event yesterday with a question about who would remember our company values. Not many hands went up. In the afternoon, we planned a game where the assigned scores were based on actions that reflected our values. In the evening, everybody was pointing at things and discussing events, stressing how this or that was indicative of a given value. Some for fun, some for real.

If you have company values, breath life into them.

The importance of systems

If you are late and cannot find your trousers in the mess you have made of your wardrobe, most likely you will be even more late.

If your pipeline dried up and you need a few more deals to close the year, most likely you will close the year short.

If you have many employees leaving because your culture is toxic, most likely a couple of new benefits will not reverse the trend.

The point is, when shit hits the fan, it’s late to make changes. Not “too late”, because you can still organize your wardrobe before the next appointment, or start building pipeline for the next year. But still late for whatever it is you want to achieve now.

That’s why systems are so important. They support you (and others around you) when things don’t go according to plans.

And things rarely go according to plans.

Important to whom

When you want to do things that matter, things that change the status quo, things that make an impact, a great place to start is to own your own schedule.

Even if you are in an entry-level role, if you keep bouncing from one task that is important to your senior colleague to the next task that is important to the manager, you will never get to what is important to you.

And that, in the long term, matters more than anything else.