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Go Faster, but Don’t Crash

While watching the Olympic trials last night and car racing over the weekend, I was reminded that in life we always want to go faster but at the same time it can cause chaos. The runner that runs the fastest gets a gold medal, the car racer that is the fastest wins a lot of money.

Car racers push to the edge and risk crashing, runners trip over each other. The desire for speed is no different in business, as a leader we always want things faster. The three legged stool always comes into play as I want it fast, cheap, and reliable, which is nearly impossible.

Chaos enters as we must always be trying to go faster, we are in a competitive market and our clients demand excellence. We want to provide nothing short of that. It is exactly why the runners push their way to the front and the car racers bump into each other. Each wants to win and stand on the podium. We are no different, we want Searchspring to be the best ecommerce tool for each and every retailer.

We compound this chaos as we scale and add employees. The employees aren’t racing each other, they are supporting the race but each is involved in different aspects.

The largest thing I have seen in scaling is what I refer to as the water down effect. When there is one Customer Support person they provide the same level of care across everyone, when there are ten you lose the ability to provide the same level as we aren’t cloning humans. We empower employees to make decisions, knowing that not all will be the same. What we try to avoid is creating extra processes or bureaucracy that just adds time and no real value.

We have a company value of “Do it now!”, which at the core is an attempt to not become overly burdened by process, so that we never enter the race because we are planning too much. However, it has detrimental effects if not done right and that is also why we have the value “Fail fast, and publicly,” which I previously wrote about here.

The faster we run the more decentralized decision making happens, those decisions will be made throughout the organization and ultimately some will be wrong. But, everyone must be empowered to make the decision, and equally, fail and course correct and share so that everyone learns and we attempt to avoid the same mistake twice.

As a leader, what you must accept is that mistakes will happen. We will launch something new that has bugs. We will incorrectly bill something. We will have micro failures throughout the organization and accepting this is believing that people are doing their best and learning from each failure, no matter how big or small. 

What we want to avoid is the car crash or the racer tripping, we want to be in the lead and go faster and faster without failure.