My intentions for writing this blog series is part educational, part inspirational, and part evangelical. If your passion lies in building organizations, teams, or companies, read carefully and respond with your thoughts. When I speak of intention, I mean in the purest sense of the word.
An intention is our most intimate reason for our actions. When we are honest about our intention, when we verbalize it publicly with courageous resolve, we are set free and compelled to continue on. Stating our intention cleanses our minds and produces an enduring resonance which motivates us to be true to our task. So, as I begin this blog series on organization building, I’ll start with my intention.
First, my intention is educational in so much as I’ll share the principles of organization building I have learned through assisting in the creation of four separate start-ups in a wide range of technology industries. You can apply these fundamental principles regardless of company and team size, location, or functional area. I’ll tackle topics such as hiring best practices, defining team mandates, and developing leaders. The fundamentals of organization building!
Second, my intention is inspirational in that every day I attempt to live out these principles and continuously improve my application of them. So, I humbly assert that teaching and learning, the blueprint and the quest, are absolutely inseparable. One of the core values at AppNexus is that individuals primarily learn by doing and this blog series is written with that in mind.
Finally, my intention is evangelical in the sense that there is a passionate perspective woven throughout this blog series: that in organization building, as well as all things personal and professional, we should concentrate on the process instead of the outcomes.
That probably sounds counter-intuitive, so allow me to explain. The process is the cause; the outcome is the effect. Process is business tactics and strategy, the energy and perspective we apply to issues in addition to the conditions we create. The outcome is a result, for instance customer loyalty, revenue and fantastic products. The most effective way to achieve an outcome is to place our energies into the process. Why do I say that? For the following reasons:
- Process is deterministic. Achievement of our desired result is brought about by mastery of the conditions that create results. In order to develop that mastery, one needs to pay continuous attention and frequently reflect.
- Process is in the present. Focusing intently on the present moment enables us to have a greater awareness of the currently conditions which makes us more likely to perceive unexpected challenges or opportunities. Alternatively, focusing on the future creates fear in most of us. We envision scenarios that don’t currently exist but might, that have a low probability but still feel palpably imminent. This causes distraction from what we can influence today and from the reality we can create currently. The fear of failure is both emotionally draining and clouds our intellect.
- Ultimately, outcomes are beyond our control. There are infinite conditions outside our influence that way impact whether or not a particular outcome is achieved. So we can accomplish more with less effort if we can accept the fact that we don’t have complete control over the outcome and instead focus our attention and effort on what can be controlled – the process.
Yet another key advantage of concentrating on the process over the potential outcomes is that doing so better equips us to cope with failure. When we focus all our attention on achieving a particular outcome, and instead we fail, what happens then? Frequently depression, anger, and self-judgment overwhelm us. These emotions impede our ability to improve and plainly see the conditions that created the outcome of failure. Instead, when we focus on process, we don’t make judgments about our failure, we just observe it objectively. We perceive the failure as another opportunity to improve the process. We simply snap back, reflect on what led us to failure, and identify improvements that can be made. The fear of repeating the outcome of failure or our own personal inadequacy doesn’t overwhelm us since the outcome was never our primary objective. Our primary object was to continuously improve our process.
Keeping that context in mind, I look forward to the process of teaching and learning together. I hope my blog series inspires a dialogue and reflection that enable you to build your organization into a great one!