Shared Vision Helps to Maintain Balance.
- Author: Eric Farr
- Essay Focus: Balance
- Expertise: Entrepreneurship, Investments, eBusiness, Leadership, Marketing Strategy
- Contact: BYUs Center for Entrepreneurship
At first, this was out of necessity. We couldn’t afford much space.
Fortunately, that isn’t the reason now. We actually have plenty of space. But we have found that by sharing an office we are both kept in the loop on important matters, we can brainstorm ideas together often and quickly, and we have more fun.
For most of the past year we have been busier than usual. Both of us have been working hard on a few specific long-term projects. And since we office together we talk about these projects quite often. We are both comfortable with the strategy and direction of the company.
Several months ago, however, we realized that we had been working so much on where we were going that we hadn’t really made the strategy and vision clear enough to the rest of our team members.
Frankly, we forgot that the whole company doesn’t share an office with us. It became clear to us that he and I were sprinting down a road that we were excited about, but some of our employees didn’t even know that we were running.
This troubling realization suddenly reminded me of when I was in grad school. Back in those days, I was on the crew team and rowed in what is called an eight-man shell. This is a long, narrow racing boat that is rowed by eight people. Four rowers row starboard and the other four row port. The rowers sit on sliding seats and slide up and back during the stroke to maximize the power of the row.
The first time I stepped into a boat it became clear that the physical aspect of rowing was the easy part. The main challenge was going to be working as a team. These boats are extremely sensitive to
shifts in weight, so it is critical that the whole team rows in perfect precision. In fact, if just one rower is off (and he might be the hardest-working rower of the eight), it can unbalance the boat enough that the other rowers are unable to get their oars out of the water for the stroke. Needless to say, this can result in rowing disaster.
I think the same principle applies to my partner and me in our business. By not communicating enough with our team, we were in essence rowing an unbalanced boat. And, like my experience in the boat, we had some employees who were working hard but weren’t working in sync with the overall vision and strategy of the company. As such, their work wasn’t nearly as effective as it could have been.
And that wasn’t good for anyone.
Fortunately, we realized this before we became a “rowing disaster.” We took (and are still taking) corrective action to make sure that the whole team knows the strategic plan. We are inviting them into our office, if you will. We have implemented regular meetings to ensure everyone knows what we are trying to accomplish.
My partner and I and the other managers are also meeting regularly with the team players one-on-one to discuss the vision, set expectations and to answer questions. We are investing the time to open the lines of communication once again so that we can ensure everyone is again in perfect precision.
As an entrepreneur, if you haven’t shared your vision with your team for some time, make it a point to do so soon. Believe me, I know how easy it is to put off this kind of stuff. But if you invest the time to make sure the team is all working toward the same goal, you will reach the goal sooner.
Whether or not you all work in the same office.
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