Desk of Brad

Let’s Embrace this Opportunity

Hi Everyone,

Growth is good, with growth comes personal opportunities, career advancement, financial rewards, and the pleasure of working on an awesome team. We have a lot of growth ahead of us, we are so lucky to have this good fortune. Revenue in Q2 will be almost 40% higher than Q1, (just so you appreciate the magnitude of what’s happening). We are going to get bigger at an accelerating rate. Remember when we were growing 100% per year? Although it was back in the good old days, many of you were here at Tahzoo when that was happening, it was exciting.
However, for us to take advantage of this moment in time, we are going to need to change. We are going to need to be better at building and managing teams. We have very little hierarchy in our company, rarely is there one person “in charge”, and that is by my design. I want us to be good at solving very difficult client problems, working as fully coordinated teams, and innovating to build market-leading solutions. I believe that the quality of our teamwork is more important than rules, org charts, and experience.
We have super smart and happy people, there is so much talent inside of Tahzoo. My Mentor who recently retired from his firm after 35 years, has been doing some management coaching with several people across the company. He can’t say enough about what an amazingly talented group of people work at Tahzoo, this coming from someone who saw his firm grow from a startup to one of the most powerful companies in the world. We have the people, now we need to focus on adjusting our model to be more concerned about the team’s success than individual success. We need to start thinking and acting on what is best for Tahzoo and what is best for our Clients.
Imagine a surgeon, anesthesiologist, and a head nurse conducting a challenging and lifesaving surgery for a patient. The loved ones of the patient are trusting and depending on the team to work effectively and complete the surgery successfully. For the purposes of this letter, imagine our client having put their career on the line by hiring Tahzoo and depending on a successful outcome. Now imagine there is a breakdown in one of the three areas of trust: Capability, Character, or Communication between the operating team. For the sake of example, let’s say there is a breakdown in communication related to keep the patient properly anaesthetized. The nurse, the surgeon, and the anesthesiologist, they fail to track the drop in the patient’s vital signs and the patient unexpectedly and suddenly passes away.
The surgeon blames the anesthesiologist for mismanaging anesthetizing the patient, the anesthesiologist blames the nurse for not keeping track of the vital signs, and the nurse blames both the surgeon and anesthesiologist for not working as a coordinated team during the surgery. To some extent they are all right in their assignment of blame … except the patient is dead. If there was trustful communication on the team, they collectively would have seen the problem in advance and engaged their coworkers to save the patient.
What happens at Tahzoo when we miss the mark and one of our projects starts to struggle … ?

Increase our communication and actively problem solve to ensure the success of the client?

Or blame one another to ensure that you’re not held responsible?

Or worst yet ensure the slow-motion train, disengage, endure the pain and bail on your team?

I read an article on why trust is critical to a team’s success. Most of the article was self-evident although I liked the construct for trust that was outlined. They proposed a three-dimensional view of trust that I’d like each of you to consider as you examine how you can do better and how you can engage with your peers to build trust. The three areas are as follows;
Trust of Capability – Recognizing people’s abilities and skills, allowing teammates to make decisions, seeking input from others, teaching and growing the skills in your teammates.
Trust of Character – Managing expectations, consistency in behavior, delegating appropriately, encouraging teamwork through mutual success, following through on commitments.
Trust of Communication – Sharing information, telling the truth, admitting mistakes, giving and receiving constructive feedback, maintaining confidentiality, speaking from the heart.
I’ve been observing a couple of patterns in the company related to a breakdown in trust. One is that we aren’t clearly identifying the issues that are causing the breakdown and communicating openly and honestly. The three areas of Trust are a good way to segment the issues and talk about them more constructively.
The second pattern and the one that is most concerning to me is around assignment of blame or attempting to shield oneself from the blame. If it’s someone else’s fault the project or a portion of the project went poorly then somehow, you’re okay and won’t be held accountable. I want to root this notion out of the company as quickly as possible. It’s a toxic cancer that prohibits growth and will not allow us to achieve our goals.
Most of our work is bespoke, although we have patterns and practices, many times we are figuring it out as we go. We are an innovative company that takes on new and different work all the time. There is a certain amount of natural chaos that is a byproduct of our bespoke model. We don’t get the benefit of standardization, that focuses on efficiencies and consistency. Our model requires a high degree of trust between teammates, cross functional teams, and our clients. This is probably the most difficult consulting model to execute but it allows us to be a premium brand working with premium clients. We get to grow and thrive, let’s embrace this opportunity and focus on our teamwork.

Let’s go be great!