Build a brand and marketing team from scratch.
Building digital experiences from scratch.
product strategy: Build experiences with the target market in mind.
When presented with a challenge — technical constraint, limited timeline, or a missing resource — figure out a solution that allows us to build a fantastic mobile experience. Roadblock are an opportunity for innovation.
The best possible glue for a large team is the organization’s vision and values.
As new members join the team, it ensures there are clear marching orders and a sense of how each new person will uniquely contribute to the success of the organization as a whole.
Plus, as it becomes harder to keep track of the daily or weekly activities of different team members, a strong sense of the team values and vision helps ensure all members are working towards the same goal using a shared cultural code.
1. Constraints Are Key for Innovation
2. Transparency and Trust go Hand in Hand
3. “Disagree, But Commit” Doesn’t Always Cut It
4. Rituals Are A Powerful Way to Unite People
5. Imposter Syndrome is Something You Don’t Grow Out Of
Constraints Are Key for Innovation
Part of being a leader is teaching people to push their boundaries, both as individuals and in the context of a group dynamic. Early on I gave people the space, time and materials to solve problems believing that an open field was the most fertile ground for creative thinking. I began to see that while people appreciate that latitude, it doesn’t always result in the best outcomes.
Transparency and Trust Go Hand in Hand
A few jobs ago, I had a boss that demonstrated what I call epic transparency. He shared every aspect of the business, from hiring considerations to the company’s financial health — even some personal details that impacted his performance at work. I felt like I was in on some sort of secret and would have done anything to help him or the company succeed.
The transparency he provided and context to the bigger picture has always stuck with me and became something I aim to replicate, especially when working for larger organizations. The majority of employees in a big organization are exposed to the decisions the company makes, but rarely the how or why that decision occurred. That leaves them to fill in their own blanks and make assumptions about the direction of the company and the nature of its leaders. When I fill in some of that context, I find the level of appreciation for company leaders and connectivity to their company grows immensely.
“Disagree, But Commit” Doesn’t Always Cut It
In theory, the Jeff Bezos phrase “Disagree, But Commit” is a great way to break through the logjam of a consensus-driven organization. I’ve used it a number of times when leading workshops with external organizational leaders to prevent delays due to indecision. The challenge is that in practice, people are more likely to disagree but dismiss — distancing themselves from the agreed upon direction and not showing interest or support. To ensure that I truly have the buy-in from the dissenting parties, I have them identify what commitment looks like. How will they follow up? What will they own? How can they show support? Even if it’s small, when someone has to define their commitment to a decision they don’t agree with, you know they’re truly along for the ride.
Rituals Are A Powerful Way to Unite People
At Prolific, we’re constantly assembling cross-functional teams of various sizes to address our different client’s needs. In some cases the individuals have worked together before, but more likely I am leading a brand new team and asking them to quickly form a cohesive unit and solve a complicated problem — not an easy task!
I’ve tried out many things over the years to foster team unity, and found the most effective approach is identifying that team’s ritual. For one project, my team celebrated a long week with “Fast Food Friday,” trying a new fast food restaurant every Friday afternoon following a meeting with our client in Fremont. Another time we developed the “Saddest Song List” on Spotify. Each team member would suggest songs for inclusion and we added to it throughout the project. We played it when we had a challenging day and it became the team’s ballad for bonding. Rituals are a way to create a fun, shared tradition that allows each person to uniquely contribute and express themselves.
Imposter Syndrome is Something You Don’t Grow Out Of
For many years, I thought I had Imposter Syndrome because I followed a non-traditional career path (switching industries a few times). While that approach helped me find my true calling and made me a very well-rounded professional, every time I stepped into a new role, I was plagued by the feeling that I was a fraud.
After meeting a number of accomplished female professionals, I realized that Imposter Syndrome is partly a by-product of personal growth. If you’re constantly challenging yourself to try something new — a new role or a new industry — especially as you gain more seniority, you will likely feel that nagging sense of self doubt. Now, I have an easier time when these feelings arise, because I focus on embracing discomfort and doubt as signs that I am doing what I love most — growing.