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The last few months of 2019 were a difficult time for us. Looking back at my schedule during the summer, I realized I had not adequately pushed the company forward. Busy work, the pursuit of shiny new things, and avoiding difficult decisions were the cause.
I don’t want to fall into the same potholes going forward, so I did some things to prevent another rough patch:
- Implement company protocols aimed at removing barriers to accomplishing deep, concentrated work
- Establish the habit of religiously tracking progress via tools like OKRs and inter-department meetings
- Embody and clarify the importance of doing things without skipping key steps
But I’ve also realized that we can’t rely solely on rules to encourage behaviour. We need to constantly think about and define our culture — the virtues that make our company special. These methods are perhaps even more important to encourage successful behaviours.
With twice the team size this year, we are finding it difficult to establish channels to address the harder questions. People are meeting with unequal access to background information; discussions are being duplicated in different meetings; and a lack of visibility on the most important issues still permeate throughout our organization.
Having learnt from my lack of decisiveness last year, I sometimes worry if I’ve now overdone it, reacting hastily to any problems, turning management meetings into reactionary, laundry-list sessions. So, I’m making a greater effort at long-term planning to address bigger issues — not just faster, but better.
Thankfully, my team is always quick and honest when addressing new problems. They consistently keep me balanced and in check. I’d like to especially thank our COO, Abdulrahman Khogali, who never shied away from those difficult discussions. He has taught me that facing issues head-on is far braver than keeping them canned. It is the first step towards improvement.