At The End Of The Day:

All that matters is: Can you deliver? I have run into several challenges over my career from jealous territorial co-workers, political positioning and the only advice I can provide is to persevere because at the end of the day all the matters is who can deliver.

Every time I have been asked to build out a team it is usually because there are no funds, no strategy, and resources that may not be motivated or appropriately aligned. One time I came into a position and found myself sitting across a table with two senior professionals and an overworked IT manager discussing in excruciating detail the most minor of issues for 90 minutes. I could tell from the look on their faces that they had been beaten down, had no direction and exhausted from not being able to get anywhere. At the end of that meeting I just looked at them and said. “At the end of the day. ”It doesn’t matter how big our team is, how much money we have or how important our jobs are to this company.” “The only thing anyone cares about is if you can get shit done.” If you can’t deliver then nothing else matters. Plus starting in a new role, I wanted to have fun. “And the way that I have fun is feeling a sense of accomplishment by getting shit done.”

I didn’t realize what impact that statement had on these people at the time but months later I found they had adopted the phrase “Get Shit Done” and would often repeat it back to me as if it were a proud war cry. It even go abbreviated to the point where we would just say “GSD” and get to work.

What we did next was put together some plans of items we thought were needed and then started executing against those plans to deliver. Rather than having endless debates about a column widget wasn’t formatting with a particular font we stepped back and focused our energies on upgrading the entire platform that resolved over 2000 bugs and provided additional features that were more valuable than that one widget.

Six months with $132,000 later we upgraded the community platform, fixed over 2000 bugs, implemented a totally new design with new navigation and dozens of new features. Our little team of three had done more in six months than had been done in the previous four years combined. And it was all because they believed they could. It was disruptive, it wasn’t without battles but it got attention that I hadn’t originally expected. I now had teams with budgets in the millions and dozens of resourced coming to me and asking how we got so much done with so little. I still don’t know the answer but I think it was because we were having fun. And because we were being successful at completing things it just gave us more motivation to keep going and do more.

The next year we had to continue to fight even though our little teams success had gotten the attention of the entire executive team. But we still didn’t have a budget and or any additional investment to keep up with our plans. With the help of my VP, we just keep pushing and pulled together an roadmap and investment plan that we thought would get us started. It took about 10 months of persistence but we finally got what we asked for and more.

The next year our little team of 3 with a $150K budget exploded to an international team of 10 with a $5.6M investment. I like to think we were the little engine that could. And it was all because we “Got Shit Done” and continue to do so today.

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Believe, Lead and Follow!

I have never found it too difficult to get people to believe in themselves or a cause. It usually just takes a little encouragement and telling them “why not you?”, “You can do this” and if that doesn’t work sometimes a kick in the pants is required. I recently realized a key to motivation for a team is believing. Believing in a cause, believing in themselves and believing in the team will always lead to success. If you don’t believe then you have doubt and if you have doubt then you trust those around you to support you when needed. And that is a recipe for failure. Belief and Trust is so powerful when it comes to teamwork and more importantly working together. You don’t always, actually you almost never, have the opportunity to remove a weak member of the team that doesn’t believe or continues to hold on to doubt. So, you have to work harder to make sure that member understands their importance and begins to believe in themselves. I am convinced that most obstacles thrown at a project are due to those who don’t believe in themselves and because of that they have fear. And that fear is what causes doubt and a desire to stop everything because there is a lack of understanding about the unknown. And that unknown is uncomfortable for most.

If you talk to any for the folks from Peak Teams  they may not agree as when hiking to the north pole sometimes you have to make a tough decisions and can’t help everyone. However, you can’t leave anyone behind either unless you have made appropriate arrangements.

It is frustrating at times dealing with opposing opinions and outside perspective from those who haven’t been involved. But you will learn quickly that  you can’t ignore them and hope they go away. You have to get them to believe as well and then you can get their help to lead and get others to follow. Managing a community has to be managed by a community. So, it takes everyone and lots of different opinions and if you can get everyone to come to consensus then the end result will ultimately be better. All of this is just common sense. If you are compassionate and can listen then you can get others to believe. And because of that you can get them to follow and then you can lead. But you can’t lead and no one will follow if you don’t first  believe.