I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be leading a team during this chaotic interlude. I mean, I had a small taste of it years ago when my team was forced to work remotely during 9/11 and an NYC blackout. Even though the remote working tools were not nearly as good as they are now, it was hard.
Those were brief periods of disruption. This one has gone on for a quarter and might continue for quite some time. So here are a few thoughts based on some things I learned during those brief disruptive times.
First, those periods reinforced the notion that I work for the team and not the other way around. My job is to make their jobs happen. Even folks who are good at what they do and can handle things when you’re all physically connected in the office often need some special attention when they’re out on the home-office island. You can’t look at their needs as interruptions to your day – they actually are your day.
Next, remember that you need to delegate even more but you also need to be extra careful in choosing what to delegate to whom. Because the level of supervision will be reduced, you need to be choosier about who you give what. Don’t take that to mean that you have to take on more yourself because you don’t. Just choose wisely. This isn’t the time to let a junior person get their feet wet because they won’t have a support team around them.
That last thought goes for you as well. with your support team less available, you’re going to admit to yourself what you don’t know and find some resources that can help you.
Finally, change the routine to incorporate more touchpoints between the team. I had a boss once who loved reminding us that meetings were for people who had nothing else to do. I agree with that to a point, but when the team is scattered, a daily meeting, even if ut’s 10 minutes just for everyone to see how everyone else is doing, isn’t a bad idea.
Those are my thoughts, along with this one: it’s going to be exciting to see what changes come out of this experience. This is an important, formative moment. What do you think?
A little bit of a detour this Foodie Friday. Instead of talking about how food is prepared and served, this week I want to tell you a bit about where some of my food comes from, and it’s not a supermarket.
One of my favorite things about having moved to NorthCarolina is that I live in the middle of many farms. Most of them produce corn and soybeans and tobacco, but there is also a fairly local farm that offers fruits and vegetables. Each week I go online and can order a box of whatever is in season as well as some fantastic canned goods such as pickled okra or salsa made at the farm. They deliver the box to my house, and most of what’s in it has been picked earlier that day or the day before. That’s a serious flavor upgrade from what you get at the store, which might have been picked a week ago.
While not organic, the farm is a GAP certified farm (Good Agriculture Practices) and is very careful to maintain a safe and healthy farm. The majority of their plants are started from seeds in the greenhouse. They purchase expensive hybrid seeds, which means they get good quality plants to grow the vegetables. The use of any pesticides or fungicides is closely monitored with all the crops. They use as little as possible, in part for health reasons and in part because chemicals are expensive. While not inexpensive, the produce is less expensive than buying organic produce ar the store and the quality is a huge upgrade.
I’m not alone in my thinking about supporting smaller farms. Maybe you’ve joined a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – near you. If not, you can learn more about it here and search for one near you. It points us to a broader business point as well. There’s often a tendency to focus on the easy and less expensive in business as well as on the “big guys” (you’ve probably heard the expression that no one ever gets fired for buying IBM, ATT, etc.). Now – especially now as we’re beginning to come out of an economic disaster – is a great time to look at smaller options. Maybe the product isn’t as uniform as what the big guys produce, maybe it’s a little more expensive, but it might also taste better and be better for you. It’s almost certainly made with more care.
Something to chew on this weekend!
I know this is supposed to be a business blog and maybe I’ll find a business point as I’m writing this but business is really quite far from my mind today. If you’re even a little bit aware of what is going on in the world at large and in our country, you’re probably a little bit distracted at well.
I’ve spent that last 25 years or so involved in technology, mostly in the content publishing and monetization space as well as online commerce. I used to think that what we were developing was going to greatly improve peoples’ lives. After all, nearly everything we’ve learned over the last couple of thousand years is at our disposal. We didn’t have to spend time shopping and could use our newly-available time to improve our lives and those of others. Boy, was I wrong.
Instead of improving things, technology has in many ways made our lives worse. Take news and information. 25 years ago, journalism was something that was a profession with standards. The news was fact-based, and those facts were researched and confirmed before they were disseminated. Now, everyone is a publisher (including yours truly). Even though the dream of unlimited information has come to fruition, much of what passes as “information” is, in fact, absolute made-up garbage that hasn’t been vetted by anyone. The people who control the platforms – Facebook, Twitter, etc. – refuse to step in for the most part. All of the bad things we thought were possible but unlikely given the noble mission we were on have come to pass, just as the mission has gone from improving lives to making as much money as possible.
I read what my friends post on social media. Inevitably, the comments revert to factless name-calling. I probably spend as much time checking out the veracity of what I read as I do reading the original pieces before ever commenting. When I do, it’s generally to provide the facts as best I can find them. Leisure time? Do any of you feel more relaxed as your use of technology has grown? More likely, you feel like you’re never disconnected from work, that you’re missing something and the amount of information that is thrown at you is overwhelming. Think about how many series or movies you’ve been wanting to stream. We’ve all mostly had the last month or so off. Are you caught up? Probably not, and that’s leisure stuff. Hey, thank goodness there haven’t been any sports or we’d NEVER get anything done!
Maybe that’s the business point today. No, we can’t turn it all off – we’re way past the point of no return. But maybe we can do a better job of prioritizing. Limit ourselves to the very few information sources that DO check their facts, even if they publish 10 minutes later. Find first-hand data, not third-hand reporting. Bite your tongue (or your keyboard) before responding to everyone with whom you disagree (seriously, have you ever changed anyone’s mind via a comment?). Breathe.
At many Grateful Dead shows, there came a moment when the crowd would have pushed forward so much that the people up front were getting crushed. Bob Weir would then say
“Alright, now we’re gonna play everybody’s favorite fun game, move back!… Now when I tell you to take a step back, everybody take a step back! Right? Right! Okay, take a step back! And take another step back! And take yet another step back! And another step back! Take a step back! Doesn’t everybody feel better?”
So take a step back, ok?