1. Twitter - I took forever to embrace twitter… In fact it wasn’t until last year that I really started actively communicating with it.
2. Google Chrome - being an Apple Purist I never thought I’d stray from safari
3. Facebook Chat - this is actually amazingly convenient - I had previously thought it would be too intrusive
4. Photoshop… I love adobe fireworks, but times are a changin’
5. Google Circles - the new revamped version is totally amazing and great for business video conferences
When I was younger I had no respect for structure - mostly because it was artificial and imposed on me. From an early age we’re taught in a structure manner: when to go to bed, when to wake up, when to go to school, how to write a paper, etc.
As I grew older and began my first few jobs that frustration with structure continued to grow. Working at big companies showed me that structure was just something that stood in my way of doing something things more efficiently and better.
Over the past few years however I’ve gone from the biggest anti-structure advocate to embracing it. I found that with ‘good’ structure I was able to get predictable results and make my team feel more comfortable with how they did things and where they would lead us.
What happened was that I went from the person who hated working within structure to the person setting it up… And I went overboard! I planned meetings down to the agendas, planned my day in the most logical and efficient ways, and I actually got mad when my structure was modified.
Certainly, we all know that the best laid plans are still just plans. I lost that. Now I’m trying to find a good balance between structure and the flexibility I need to recognize opportunities and work effectively.
What I’ve found:
1) structure for big things is great! When we have big meetings and how we manage client projects, are great examples of where structure is important and effective
2) structure for small things isn’t great. Trying to plan methods for people to give you feedback, creating rubrics to score how we make decisions and contingency rules for how we handle certain situations are all examples of how structure makes you inflexible.
3) structure killed my gut - and my gut has always guided me best! When there are rules and procedures for every little thing in place, no matter how well intentioned, you lose the ability to defy logic sometimes… That’s definitely not ideal in a fast paced small business.
4) when people need structure it’s obvious. I now like to think of structure reactively as opposed to proactively… It should be a tool to help guide us, not codified rules for things we do naturally.
5) structure and planning aren’t the same thing.
Overall I’m glad I’ve wrestled with this structure issue now. As my company grows I want to be able to guide its path with a good balance of structure and this was certainly a great lesson!
I’m a bit embarrassed that so many things have happened over the past few moths and I haven’t shared any of them! NY Tech Day was a huge success, NYC Dev Shop is growing and refining our craft… Oh, and I got married! I’m going to make sure I do a better job of sharing the things I do and the things I learn.
A few months ago Brad Feld gave me a piece of advice that really changed how I look at things. I was having a very difficult time hiring new people and it was hurting NYC Dev Shop and NY Tech Day. Brad told me that when reviewing candidates I should plot them on a chart the X-Axis as skill-set and the Y-Axis as cultural fit. This was an amazing piece of advice that I’ve since heard him repeat in several lectures.
This is a really good method of turning my subjective opinion into a more objective way of qualifying candidates. (Note: the reason my ideal candidate is not on the very most top right corner is because I like to train developers to code using the same conventions I do - so I love when they have a good bit of room to learn!)
After thinking about this rubric, I started using it a lot more often - for other business decisions. For example, when making difficult choices about the venue for the next NY Tech Day (soon to be announced) I’ve plotted location v. price, and when making decisions about how to code things in projects I’ve plotted time v. long term benefit.
The real edge this gives me in business - is that it gives me more transparency - and that its a repeatable process.