Monday, May 20, 2013

Get Stuff Done




Getting stuff done is at the root of any business venture.  It may sound trivial, but many start-ups strategize themselves right out of business because they don’t get stuff done!

Launching a business and turning it into a revenue-generating enterprise is daunting. Becoming self-sustaining and profitable all the more so.  However, that is just the warm-up drill; the real chore is to stabilize, manage and grow that business in an ever-changing world.

This is especially true for my company Intech Creative LLC, a digital products company, and its wholesale web services subsidiary Incognito Worldwide.

New frameworks, platforms and tools are evolving in the marketplace every day, creating the delicate balance between “doing” and “learning” that has to be maintained to remain viable.

According to Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive officer, the world creates 5 exabytes of data every two days. That is roughly the same amount created between the dawn of civilization and 2003. Take a moment to absorb that concept!

With all the data being created, technology is expanding and evolving at an exponential rate to accommodate it. Cloud computing has become all the rage; mobile is in its infancy and still mind-boggling, and Big Data the new holy grail to company planning. And while the new Microsoft Surface software and the flexible tablets being developed by Plastic Logic and Intel are amazing, the next five years -- with holographic computers -- will make many futuristic sci-fi films look severely out of date.

Every entrepreneur has different skill sets.  Some are great visionaries, but terrible managers. Others are great with people-interaction yet poor with content and business process.

Whether your strength is abstract, analytical, or managerial  those that thrive and succeed are those that recognize their own shortcomings as well as they recognize their strengths, and like a basketball team built around a great scorer, for example, can assemble a team to enhance their strengths and fill the gaps of their own shortcomings.

The older we get the less insatiable our ego-driven appetite becomes. This is a good thing.  While a healthy ego is a needed ingredient for success, one also requires a bit of humility -- to not only openly admit our shortcomings to others, but ourselves, --, which allows us the willingness to seek out and acquire the skills and knowledge we lack.

Having said that however, never before has there been so much information. Never before has it come at us at such blinding speeds: blink and you've just missed key information. How do we stay ahead, or at least keep up to such a rapidly changing marketplace without having our heads overload?

We can’t.

So the answer seems pretty clear: we need to assemble our own “A” teams; made up of passionate employees that we can nurture, motivate to become experts in their area of contribution, and they apply that knowledge across the enterprise for the benefit of the company as a whole. 

This makes the hiring of the right employees key to any potential success for a business in this new millennium. It spotlights the need for intelligent teams, collaboration across departments and pay-grades.

I've learned from experience that emotional hiring is dangerous, often compelling you to see what one can become rather than the character flaws they have. The right character with less ability will serve better than a great potential ability without solid character traits. The latter is prone to betray you at the most inopportune (for you) time.  

In the old days a few rock stars could carry a company. No longer. The newly-birthed enterprises that will take the pass-off and carry the leadership torch in the future, will be those that bring together knowledge-based coordinated teams that can flex and adjust to the currents, without breaking.

Get Stuff Done

In a New York Times interview,  Adam Bryant talked with Kris Duggan, C.E.O. and a co-founder of Badgeville, a designer of game-based programs for businesses.

Mr. Duggan identifies the new framework for young companies, from how to hire, share goals, how to codify the values of an organization, and establish the company culture.When it comes to hiring, Mr. Duggan notes that there are some basic principles he adheres to:

1. the most important thing is to have a framework that everybody in the company knows. So make is simple.
2. hire people who are experts in their domain. It’s really about excellence.
3. I’m looking for “sparkle.” Is this person contagiously enthusiastic?
4. look for people who just get stuff done. We’re very focused on metrics — we have goals and controls, and everybody in the company has them. Its empowering and transparent.
5. require every candidate to do homework; provide an assignment without guidelines or timelines to see what they do with it; it reveals knowledge, process and commitment.

Mr. Duggan spoke about goals: “I think organizations have a hard time communicating up and down the chain of command and getting everybody mobilized to focus on the same goals. I’ve experienced that firsthand — whatever your task or scope of work, you don’t know how that connects to your manager and your manager’s manager, and how that is all kind of interconnected.”

Within my own company, I often cite and recite over and over again the short-term and long-term goals of the company, and the tasks required to get us there.  Still it is at times like trying to herd a pack of wild cats; you no sooner get one focused and comprehending and three others are out of the box.

Yet cross-department understanding of goals is worth investing the time in achieving. In this day and age a company has to breathe together; each expertise and energy a piece of the overall living brain of the company, which can thrive or suffocate.