I recently left a job where I got in a lot of arguments. I argued with coworkers over projects we were working on. I argued with myboss over the direction of the organization. I participated in heated arguments with the whole team about our strategy, processes, branding, and messaging. Sometimes the arguments ended with laughter and decisions on how to move forward, and other times they ended with everyone frustrated.
My time there reinforced the fact that collaboration is far easier said than done. People assume that collaboration — or strategy of any kind — means laying out on a plan, and then enacting that plan step-by-step. That kind of agreement is rarely possible, though. Collaborating with diverse groups of people on complex issues requires giving up certainty and control.Read more
I don’t really follow sports, so the bulk of my athletic knowledge comes from movies. (I watched my mom’s beloved Cubs win the World Series this fall with at least part of my brain thinking, “Oh, they’re playing baseball, like in A League of Their Own.”) When I caught up recently with the 2011 film Moneyball, based on the book about the use of sabermetrics in baseball, I wasn’t expecting to care much about its stats-heavy story -- much less find an analogy that I’ve returned to frequently in my life. But the movie’s central concepts have continued to come up in my work when I think about team-building and what I and my colleagues bring to our jobs.
Moneyball’s story focuses on Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), general manager of the struggling Oakland A’s and a former MLB player himself. As a high school student, we see in flashbacks, he was singled out by major-league scouts impressed by his well-roundedness: He was equally good at hitting, running, and fielding. That promise led him to give up a scholarship to Stanford… but then his big-league career fizzled.
The insight that eventually leads to the Oakland team’s success under Billy Beane is this: Players who are good at everything don’t necessarily help a team win. Scoring the most runs is what really matters, and players getting on base is what helps teams score runs. The most important stat in this view is “on-base percentage” -- so a player who draws a lot of walks could be more valuable than a power hitter who’s inconsistent.Read more
I recently celebrated one year at my company, jabber logic, which provides marketing and consulting services for nonprofits and small businesses. In the past year, as I’ve explained to friends and family what I do — helping clients rebrand, managing social media, writing website copy — there’s one fact that seems to stand out most: I’m one of just two people in my office.
My boss, Amee McDonald, founded the company with her husband, and we work with contract employees on specific projects. But, most days, it’s just the two of us in an open office. There are no cubicles to retreat to, and no hiding the fact that you just microwaved a fragrant bowl of soup. I’m not only constantly aware of the office dynamic; I’m partially responsible for it. And while that alone can be demanding, it’s also been a valuable lesson in determining the kind of workplace culture I want and what I can do to shape it.Read more