|Pretty simple, but this is the core idea.|
Over the past 30 years as an employer, employee, and a contractor, I have had the amazing opportunity to work within, evolve, or create corporate cultures in ways that generate the best environments for people to thrive. You always want magic to happen, but it doesn't happen on its own.
|"This is the final piece?" |
- Ian Black, manager of Spinal Tap
I have always seen myself as a road manager for creative teams. The road manager is not the star. In fact, they are hardly ever even considered when things go right. But wow, when things go wrong, who do you think gets the blame? Yeah, you know what I am saying.
|Spinal Tap is not going to be |
pleased with the monument.
|Led Zeppelin with their manager, |
the late, great Peter Grant.
He "got" it. You should Google him.
Once you have the stage set up, the marketing machine has gotten the fans to the building, the sales team has sold the tickets, the merch table is in place, and all the other details are handled... then and only then is it time for the REAL rock stars to come in and blow everyone's minds.
|Where's Peter Grant? He's not |
even in the building because
he's taking their money to
a safe location. Really.
Look him up.
The thing that is really frustrating is that when you are the best road manager, people wonder why they are even paying you because you make the rock stars' work look effortless!
The reason I'm writing this post is because I believe that road manager work can be nearly effortless once everyone is following the same well-known and moderated rules.
SETTING THE STAGE
It has been my experience that to create magical, emotionally compelling and memorable experiences for your users, your employees have to be in the right environment, both physically and emotionally. That environment allows creativity to soar in ways you cannot expect or predict. But how can you make that environment? What are the main ingredients?
|This is the level of creative output |
possible when the environment is right.
- Clearly defined corporate vision
- Clearly defined milestones / project goals
- Corporate culture is defined in meaningful terms with compelling examples of their application
- Hire and retain competent employees / healthy HR system
- Better equipment improves performance
- Invest in employees' careers
- Make mistakes faster than everyone else
- Celebrate the knowledge gained from mistakes
- Bring wrong is okay, if you admit it quickly and completely
- A core understanding that love, respect, honesty, healthy disagreement, and trust build the best teams
- “No surprises,” unless they are good
- Catch people being good as often as possible
- Have high expectations that are actually achievable
- Immediately celebrate milestones
- Authority and responsibility are given in equal doses
- Managers set and manage expectations and act as coaches and gardeners
- People don't get fired, they fire themselves by not meeting well-defined expectations
- Asking questions is a job requirement
- Social media is a huge win, even considering the drawbacks
- Gamification is fully embraced
- Give credit where credit is due; after all, it's free*
|When things go right, I feel like I'm on the front row. |
We need more of that.
Here's my secret: you actually have to care about the people doing the work. Love your rock stars, because they are the ones making the magic.
I wanna rock!
P.S. Thanks for reading. What do YOU think? What's your secret catalyst?
These tenets have come from a lot of sources over the years, and they are tried and true. Much credit goes to the book "Peopleware." It is epic. I have picked up a lot of these ideas through the years from other managers or other books or even making the same mistake over and over until I had to realize that the universe was trying to tell me that I was "doing it wrong."
Credit also goes to Origin Systems, where I spent 6.5 years learning within the most magical environment ever. They let me implement some of these and they also had quite a few of them in place that I got to watch work or colossally fail, depending on their implementation or who was implementing them. Origin was also insane, but that's another story. Or maybe it is a series of books, I never can tell.
The most credit must go to all of the employees over the past 30 years that helped me learn which of these tenets work at which time on which project. You guys rock! Or, if you were part of the "Billy's still learning how to do this correctly" part of my education, I'm sorry for doing it wrong.