“Starting a business is a team sport.”
- Katrina Lake (CEO of Stitch Fix)
What the heck is Stitch Fix and who is Katrina Lake? Well, Katrina is the youngest woman to ever take a company public, and at 34 has an estimated net worth of $500 million dollars. (Probably the only CEO to have her 1-year-old son ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange as well.) She does know a thing or two about starting a successful business. In her world of venture funding, web platforms, data mining, strategic partnerships, etc., starting a business probably is a "team sport."
But for almost every other business I know, it’s not.
Most businesses I come into contact with started with just one person. One person making all the decisions, wearing all the hats, figuring out all the problems, and shouldering all the risk and responsibility. In fact, the biggest problem most of them face is in embracing the idea of team.
Because, while starting most businesses may not be a team sport, it is going to require a team to sustain, grow, and mature one.
It is going to have to become a team sport.
Some of the best companies we know still maintain a very tight locus of control at the very top of the organization. We believe in something very different. We encourage the integration of ideas, inspiration, and ownership at every level. Our system of organizational design and position agreements rest on that principle.
- Managers should be crowdsourcing ideas, inspiration, and ownership from their frontline employees.
- Department leaders should be doing the same from their managers.
- Division heads should be doing that from department leaders.
- The Executive team should be drawing on the collective wisdom and experience of all those division folks.
While decision making tends to roll uphill, we should be sourcing, engaging, and empowering everyone downhill who are closest to the things we are trying to manage and optimize. Not only is this the key to breeding engagement and a sense of ownership, it is the path to much better decision making and problem-solving.
Successful business comes from making it a team sport.
And while almost everyone would agree with that statement, virtually everyone I encounter has a difficult time allowing their business to become a team sport. Believing something is true and actually transitioning that thing in a new direction are two different things. I needed a regimen and accountability to lose a bunch of weight and get healthier. I needed a plan and a system to focus my life and my calendar so that I could live a more intentional, impactful life.
Likely, so do you. So does your company.
There are no quick fixes, but there is a relatively short and methodical journey that can get you where you want to go. You really can arrive somewhere on purpose and likely in a place you’ve quit believing was possible.
Our business cards make only three statements:
Build a Team.
Define a Future.
Create a Plan to Get There.
It may not start with a team, but the sooner you form and source them at every level of your organization, the sooner you will find the success you desire. Gather the right teams, help them imagine a more inspired future, and then get to work on the essential things that need to happen to get you there.
It is a beautiful thing to watch. We’re seeing it happen every day.
- Are your employees engaged, invigorated, and operating with a sense of ownership?
- Do you feel like you are alone and that every problem is yours to solve?
- Are you really ready to do something about it?