10 Things Great Teams Do

  1. Continuously learn We openly share within and outside the team in a productive manner.

  2. Constant reevaluation of process How can we be more productive? Does the process that we created in the past still suit the way we work today?

  3. Start with quality We strive for perfection in our work, but quickly recognize the law of diminishing returns and react accordingly.

  4. Have a customer perspective We look at things from the perspective of the people who use our products and services, and continually refine that viewpoint as our customers change.

  5. Work out loud We keep our direct team and others up-to-date via Big Visible Charts, dashboards, etc. We choose not to hide our ups and our downs as that would violate rules 1, 2, and 3.

  6. Prioritize well We work on the most important things first. We know what those things are and we openly identify them.

  7. Product manage At the end of the day, we are all product managers, and strive to make a better product, deliver a better service, and have happier customers. We realize sometimes it is the little things that make up that happiness and we are always looking to provide that edge.

  8. Understand core issues We work with our customers to live their pains and know where opportunity lies for them. When we know how our customers think, we are better equipped to deliver them what they need, when they need it.

  9. Move as one Trailblazing the future has unknowns and we accept that. When we fall short, we take the opportunity to learn and move forward. We celebrate the assist as much as the goal.

  10. We love what we do We work hard to constantly improve and push our team forward. We know any great endeavor is a marathon, not a sprint, and we build to last.

  11. We laugh Many things in life are serious, but not all. We know the power of a simple smile.

A Tale of Two Watches

There are two types of thinking essential for any company. The first continually takes advantage of short-term opportunities and ensures long-term success. Incrementalism is the thinking that goes into making tomorrow more productive than today. Companies look to expand while minimizing risk and maximizing return on their investment. Over time, companies typically get very good at constantly improving those things they already do.

Imagine we manufacture and sell a successful $500 watch. If a competitor announces a similar $450 watch, let’s apply the above thinking. Perhaps we start with going back to ask our suppliers for a better price. We might be able to streamline our manufacturing process. This would not be simple because if those savings were obvious, we would have already done that work. However, it is not impossible to think that we could tighten our belts and drive 10% efficiencies across the board.

Now, another competitor has came out with the same feature set in a watch costing just $200. There is no amount of incremental improvement would enable us to compete at this price. This kind of challenge requires a different perspective in thinking.

It is counter intuitive to build a drastically cheaper product with the knowledge it has taken to build the current model. First, if we could build at a cheaper price, it is likely we would have already done so! Second, we are attempting to build two different things, while applying the same logic, which is always going to create organizational, process, and technology challenges.

This particular area is where start-ups excel. They don’t have the long-held perspective that more mature companies have. Not having this view is what enables them to look at things objectively. That view might entail different materials, ways of manufacturing, locations, or otherwise.

Mature companies can still enable groups to think like a start-up, but it has to be a conscious decision to do so. If someone is able to make a product at a certain price, its likely true that others could too. However, it can be the very thinking that has made you successful today that inhibits you from creating a new tomorrow.

Do you have a path for both getting better at what you do today, while leaving the door open for a different path in the future?

On Workplace Happiness

The following is a simple framework for what makes people happy at work. It is not the end-all-be-all. However, these simple concepts provide building blocks for managers and reflection points for employees. They answer the age old question of “what’s important.”

Temporarily, people can give up one thing from this list for the greater good. In my experience, frustration will ensue if one of these areas are lacking long term.

1) Challenge People

People generally respond well to new and challenging situations. Given opportunity, people will rise farther than expected in the face of adversity.

2) Provide Learning Opportunities to Team Members

The best teams are cross functional and have a wide knowledge base.

3) Enable Ownership

A small business owner’s problem is exactly the same issue a Fortune 500 CEO battles: How do you get your employees to care as much as you do? How do you make them passionate leaders? It’s simple: Leadership begins with ownership.

Regardless of our position, we all can be a part of ensuring our teammates have access to these three simple things. Be that difference today.