I could have had the cover of Forbes at 25 and instead …
I could have been a multi-billionaire at 30 and instead …
I could have seen my story told in universities at 40 and instead …
None of this has happened yet, despite the talent and skills. I have to start this reflection with apologies. I apologize to all my collaborators of the past for not having led them to immense success.
I have no remorse for not having succeeded. Instead, I am happy to share the reason why I didn’t succeed: I always thought I could do everything myself, I didn’t treat my collaborators correctly.
Not that I treated them badly, on the contrary. I simply didn’t leave space for them to contribute enough because, in fact, I did everything myself.
Work is not a right; it is not a duty; it is a cog.
Now someone might think, from the beginning, that I was a bad boss, but it’s a very difficult job. In this article I will try to explain the other part of the barricade, the frustrations, the solutions.
A manager of any company or group must have a vision that generates a plan, which generates deadlines that define processes, and a qualitative standard. And this plan must be supported by an adequate budget.
When defining this roadmap you have to be extremely careful and be consistent and realistic, otherwise the toy will break. A clock works only if all the gears are running in sync. We are the watchmakers.
The six gears that I imagined to be necessary for a quality relationship with employees are: vision, planning, deadlines, processes, quality, and budget. These gears are contained in points one and four of the Viral Octopus Loop.
Big Vision + Short Deadline = Frustration
When the vision is bigger, more ambitious and detailed, the team will need more time to assimilate and implement it. Every now and then we “leaders” have the hallucination that makes us believe that increasing resources allows us to go faster or “squeeze the team” to save money and get more results sooner.
It is not so. It is processes that shorten the time. The processes must be improved or changed, so as to allow the teams to self-train and be ready, in a reasonable time, to push the accelerator naturally. Be careful not to mistake efficient processes with complication and bureaucratization of the project.
I have seen companies commit suicide, entrusting the creation of processes to people with extremely convoluted minds (I recently also made this error myself). I tend to entrust the creation of processes to lazy engineers. Engineers have the training to create processes and, if they are lazy, they will try to make them simple and automatic.
Big Vision + Poor / No Planning = No Delivery
Another frustrating issue for a team is to see projects launched in disorganized bulk on the table and then hear the claim that everything is done now – so many times I have seen this – and meanwhile the objective has not been achieved because no one ever understood it to begin with.
Now I will explain why we sometimes make this mistake. Roman law describes the figure of the entrepreneur well and, in my opinion, also the emotions that move him with “the diligence of a good family man”.
It is diligence, that is, the commitment to satisfy the creditor’s interest, typical of the ‘average’ man, the good family man, who is evaluated in relation to the specific obligation that the debtor must perform.
Probably the lawyers reading the following lines will feel a shudder of indignation. I will try to explain what it means to me and how it relates to the current topic.
The entrepreneur has the responsibility to meet all the burdens connected to his company. (S)he has the responsibility to satisfy all debtors – that is, collaborators, suppliers, banks, investors, the State and I would add the planet Earth, in my ideal world of unicorns and rainbows. All this without forgetting that a company’s goal is to generate profit.
We must meet all these responsibilities as an extended family with the diligence of a good family man. Imagine the emotional burden and the anxiety that you drag with you.
Here we find ourselves digging like mad, following the rumors, to find the nugget that will lead to the new vein of gold that will feed our big family.
Obviously, we have the right goal but we are not pursuing it effectively. In fact, in the Viral Octopus Loop, trend scouting is found as the eighth point, at the bottom of the sequence of actions and processes to be implemented.
The problem is that, in our mad rush to find gold, we bring our collaborators with us, who must stop extracting gold from the old and healthy field, to look for a richer one.
The problem is that the shovel blades end up stuck at a certain point, and our collaborators find themselves digging with their hands, without knowing if there is even any gold to be found. After a while your hands bleed and doubts fill you.
For some it is stimulating, for others it is frustrating. Everyone has his role at the right time.
Poor / Not Planning + Short Deadline = Very Bad Quality
Poor planning leads to constantly shifting deadlines and projects that seemed imminent but after 5 years are still pending.
At some point, it becomes so frustrating for everyone, that one must somehow carry that particular project forward, even with bleeding hands.
So we proceed in a rush, we don’t think about the details, we launch the product as soon as we have it, we become insecure, we no longer believe. In my opinion, there is no worse failure than not respecting your customers’ and your collaborators’ time. Time is a non-renewable resource and to lose it with a poor product, only because of the ego or the boss’s fears, is morally unforgivable, as well as a financial loss for the company.
Zuckerberg or some other American said “better done than perfect”.
Ok, I can agree with that idea to a point, but it must be sufficiently done not to waste the time of others. Zuck works with billions of dollars behind him. Losing a million users or a hundred indignant contributors is no big deal for him. Certainly, not a good example in my world of Unicorns and rainbows.
Big Vision + Poor / Non-Planning + Short Deadline = Unfair Treatment
I searched for the solution to this bilateral drama within myself, but I found it in an article in Business Harvard Review.
I have just spoken ill of the Americans and now, from them comes the solution. Ironic!
The author argues that fairness is not a natural gift and does not reside in a single action, but is a complex set of decisions and actions. To obtain the esteem and trust of employees, four aspects must be considered:
- Distribution correctness – employees are fairly rewarded for their contribution as compared to other employees.
- Transparency and clear procedures – be transparent on the business model, making collaborators participate in the procedures.
- Information correctness – explaining the logic behind decisions.
- Interpersonal correctness – always treat employees with dignity and respect.
A real job that is often considered of low priority.
Having the presumption that you can do the work of ten people and being able to do it better than your collaborators, then doing all tasks oneself, one ends up not having the time and energy to be human and treat people correctly.
By surrounding ourselves with the right people, properly assembling the right gear wheels, investing time in being human and correct, we can increase productivity and everyone will be happier.
Being human and correct in the workplace does not only impact the company; it impacts the whole world.
Viral Octopus and its humans
This is the philosophy behind the concept of the Collective of Viral Octopus.
Viral Octopus is a large and complex watch that selects the right gears through processes and technology. We rely on technology because it is not emotionally involved and avoids many cognitive biases and prejudices.
The technology, in fact, does not consider ethnicity, religion, age, sex, tone of voice, look, tattoos, ideologies, sexual preferences … Nothing. Only performances and skills. Everyone does what they like and fits perfectly and chooses which project to work on.
The system selects teams based on objective performance measured by tests, and stochastic parameters such as internal team reviews, customer reviews, responsiveness and other parameters that make up the ranking.
First of all, the system will evaluate the happiness and lifestyle of the professional who will be selected according to the time (s)he wants to dedicate to the job, the time slot for availability, passions, experiences and of course their ranking.
Therefore, the satisfaction of the entire Customer, Professional, Team and Planet Earth Ecosystem is guaranteed.
Work Less, Be Human, #BeSmart