When no one can take your time

When nobody can take anyone else’s time through a system, people end up with more time to themselves. When you have more time to yourself, you end up doing better work and more work. You can get a lot more stuff done in a given day than maybe you could in another organization that has six times as many people but 20 times as many meetings, 30 times less time during the day to yourself. So we try to avoid anything that breaks days into smaller and smaller chunks.

~ Jason Fried from, https://distributed.blog/2020/01/09/working-smaller-slower-and-smarter/

There’s a critical bit of culture however which must be in place it to work: People have to know their responsibilities and have to “pull” work towards themselves. Everyone has to know their own area and has to take responsibility. This is very different from the usual [that is, dysfunctional,] workspace where everyone shows up, and their boss—or worse, everyone—tells them what to do. In the team where people take responsibility and take work, everyone has to understand the mission. Everyone has to understand the vision of what they are trying to co-create. Everyone hast to empathize with their teammates.


How to communicate

You can not not communicate. Not discussing the elephant in the room is communicating. Few things are as important to study, practice, and perfect as clear communication.

~ Jason Fried from, https://basecamp.com/guides/how-we-communicate

This article explains how Basecamp—the organization itself—communicates. If you are a human being, who ever encounters other human beings, the initial list is a great primer on how to communicate. The whole article makes me feel warm and fuzzy. As if, somehow, the world would take a big step in the right direction if more people would read this one thing.


The warrior sense of humor

Lastly, these remarks are inclusive. They’re about “us.” Whatever ordeal is coming, the company will undergo it together. Leonidas’s and Dienekes’s quips draw the individual out of his private terror and yoke him to the group.

~ Steven Pressfield, from https://stevenpressfield.com/2011/04/the-warrior-sense-of-humor/

This also ties into what makes a good team. I don’t mean hyperbolic imagining of the team as some military unit. Rather, plainly stating what lies ahead, what will be challenging, and what are the goals for the team builds cohesion. The more the team members understand each other, the better they can empathize. Only when there’s empathy—my ability to use it and your awareness that I can and do use it to better help and understand you—can the barriers of fear be removed; fear prevents people from asking for help and from asking how they can help others.


Get out of the way

This is why “culture” in business matters. Because it allows people to see whether or not they’re allowed to cut the metaphorical knot.

~ Hugh MacCleod, from https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2019/08/28/gordian-knot-culture/

I was recently asked, “What’s the hardest part, for you, about podcasting?”

Staying out of the way.

I’ve spent so much of my life diving in and fixing things, that it has become my first instinct. To rush in and grab the controls. To attach a sense of artificial urgency to everything. To become frustrated that others aren’t immediately taking action now that a solution or idea has been found.

Certainly, an important step is to first cultivate a team who can do great work. But once that’s done enough, the hard part for me is staying out of their way.

Many people would say that I value action over thought. This is absolutely not the case. I am driven to find evidence, to investigate, to look for previous examples of similar solutions and ideas, to gather data, to analyze, to sort, to organize, to imagine… and then I act— often frenetically.

It is right before that last step that I’m learning to self-intervene.



Get out of the way.


On being wrong

I’ve come to realize that I love being wrong.

I spent so many years reinforcing the thought that I could be the guy; The guy who swoops in and solves the problem when things get technically complicated, the guy who swoops in and creates order and process out of the chaos, the guy who swoops in and gets things done. Setting aside the analysis of whether or not I was actually particularly good at that, I did “I can be that guy” so much that I had convinced myself that I am that guy.

In The Coaching Habit, Michael Bungay Stanier talks about the Karpman drama triangle. I’ve certainly played all three roles of Persecutor, Victim and Rescuer. But I realize now that I’m addicted—or perhaps I can be hopeful enough to say was addicted?—to being the Rescuer. In the past year or so it’s become clear to me that it’s vastly more healthy and fun(!) to be part of a team that solves problems and gets things done.

To be the person who asks a question that opens a flood gate of discussion.

To be the person who understands that one’s purpose was to have been instrumental in creating the environment last week, so this week the team solves the problem on its own.

To be the person who is a complete and utter success, by having simply contributed a small addition here, a minor adjustment there.


The real challenge

The challenge with on-boarding as with most investments in the humans at your company is proving a compelling and measurable return on that investment. Everyone agrees that on-boarding feels like a thing we should invest in, but isn’t the first priority building and selling a product?

~ Rands from, http://randsinrepose.com/archives/everything-breaks/

The answer to that question, by the way, is, “No.”

Winning sports teams, and successful companies, focus on getting the small things right. Do this right. Do that right. Focus on doing the right thing now. The team’s season, and the company’s product, will take care of themselves.

Except for a leader. The team and the company need a leader with vision. It’s true that to build the best wall, you focus on laying this brick as best you can, and the result is the best wall. Except, someone had to determine where the wall was located. Someone had to determine what materials we’re building with. So we need the focus on doing things right, and we need a leader with vision.

The real challenge is to integrate the leadership vision with the team that’s doing things right.