I have a ritual where I reflect monthly on a few documents I created to remind me of important professional endeavors. One of those documents pertains to areas of improvement for the company and its culture, and a few ideas that are more personal in nature. In short, I have discovered that thoughts not captured on paper are likely to disappear.
I recently had a startling experience reviewing one of these documents. Early in 2017 I had an idea pertaining to the structure of one our departments. What if, I hypothesized, we changed the structure to more of a 2-3 member pod with a designated leader in each pod, thus incentivizing teamwork, and providing a path of leadership for those who desired it? Looking back at it, I still think the idea has merit, and at the same time, I fully admit that it was not completely fleshed out and there are several implications to consider —but the intent of this post isn’t to consider them here.
The intent is to publicly confess that in early 2017, I did not have the guts to propose this change.
For starters, I listened to critics. What’s interesting is that the critics were not fellow leaders in the organization — in fact, the few I shared this vision with embraced it. The critics were those would have been impacted. Wanting buy-in, I strategically shared this idea with a few of them and received push back. Like I said, I didn’t have all the kinks worked out in my mind, so their questions were legitimate.
Perhaps more importantly, however, it became clear that a few of our team members did not want to embrace something new, and would prefer to maintain the larger “team” concept that currently exists (and to be fair, works well based on 2017 results).
In retrospect, I learned that I should not give up so easily on ideas like this. I should think through some more of the implications of a proposal like this before going public with the idea —in fact, I have realized that “over exuberance” about a new idea is a weakness of mine.
But I shouldn’t be afraid of making some team members uncomfortable for a bit while we adjust to something new, if I’m convinced that it will make things better in the long run.
I’m glad I wrote this idea down and it didn’t completely disappear from my mind. I am challenged in 2018 to keep considering this proposal and its consequences, investigate how similar structures have worked at other organizations, and talk it through with people I trust.
And I can also say with confidence that while I did not have the guts last year, the story of this little idea does not end there.