Questions stick

Measure and report whatever you want, just make sure it provides an answer to a strategic question.

If the number you are sharing with your team is not a direct answer to a question, it is just a number, and I bet you will soon be tempted to report a different one when things do not go as well.

Questions stick, and they define where you are going.

You’ll never get it

If after 15 months of covid crisis your organization does not have a plan to promote virtual get-togethers with colleagues, it failed.

If the only meetings are work-related meetings, if the participants rarely are from outside your team, if 1-1s keep being cancelled and postponed – because, you know, managers are busy -, it failed.

If there are no conversations around mental health, well-being, separation between work and personal life. If it is not offering some sort of incentives for therapy. It failed.

If the only times the company and the teams meet, it is the managers doing the talking, and all the other employees listening, it failed.

If what gets rewarded is still achieving personal goals, if cooperation is not actively stimulated, if teams are just a way to build walls rather than a way to reach out and help, it failed.

Just because your numbers are cool, it does not mean your people are too.

If you have not understood this during the past 15 months, you’ll probably never get it.

Get out of the way

At your company, who is responsible for what?

Who do you go to when a new page needs to be added to the website? When a campaign is not performing well and needs changes? When you do not know if a campaign is performing well? When your new service might benefit from a repositioning? When you are considering whether to enter a new market? When a new policy needs to be reviewed?

The point is, it can’t be always the same person. That creates bottlenecks, and at the end of the day one person cannot have all the answers. Also, it can’t always be a group of people (typically the same, the management team). Seeking buy-in from everybody is in itself a bottleneck, and somebody who is good at product development is probably not the best person to advise on brand strategy.

Who is responsible for what – that is something that, as a leader, you need to figure out early on.

Once you have done that, once you have trusted somebody to make decisions, once you have agreed on how you are going to be kept in the loop, once you have defined the metrics to track to measure progress.

Just get out of the way.

Assumptions

If you want to get an idea of how dangerous (for a business) assumptions and groupthink are, have a look at the two graphs below (research by Profitwell).

What 1,200 product leaders think of the last 5,000 features they released.
What 1.2M customers think of those features (in terms of Willingness to Pay and Preference).

We think we are building products and services that deliver high value and for which customers are willing to pay premium price. In reality, customers perceive those products and services as average and not particularly worth of their money.

The executives and leaders at a company are rarely the ideal audience for what they are buiilding. This is true when the company is young, and it is even more true once the company gets traction and grows.

You ought to free your decision-making process of assumptions and start looking at qualitative and quantitative data that come from customers. You should have done that yesterday. You can still make it happen today and have a huge competitive advantage nonetheless.

Culture is alive

Culture is not a statement.

It’s not a nice quote on the wall, a deck, or the list of principles on your website. It is not something you can decide in a meeting. It is not something you can survey. It is not something you can benchmark.

Culture lives in what you do. In the habits of the day to day, in what your leadership says, in the things that get rewarded. It’s in all the meetings, in the 1-1s, in the informal chats by the coffee machine. It’s in what you communicate, what you focus your attention on every time you stand in front of the camera and broadcast to the whole company. It’s in the details. It is there when nobody is watching.