Practicing What We Preach
My business partner Jeff and I are unlike in a whole variety of ways – he’s younger, I’m older; he’s male, I’m female; he’s a true oenophile, while I barely drink. Our brains work very differently, too – we approach nearly every challenge or situation from two different directions.
Our differences – for the most part – enliven and enrich our work together, though, because we agree on the important things. We want to interact with love, honesty and mutual support; we want to support our clients to create better businesses and better work relationships; we want to be illuminating, strengthening and trustworthy with our clients and with each other. And – this one is important – we want to practice what we preach.
Before I started Proteus in 1990, I observed (and worked for) consulting companies where the employees didn’t hold themselves accountable for doing the things they encouraged their clients to do. I always found this “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy really disturbing, and I promised myself that when I started my own company, I’d do everything in my power to make sure that we ourselves did what we recommended to others. Jeff, I’m happy to say, feels exactly the same way.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve been growing fast – and so we have a number of new employees in our two different offices (Minneapolis and New York) who barely know each other, and who are trying to keep up with our growth using processes that are in some cases ill-defined and in others not very scaleable, fulfilling roles that seem to change almost daily. All in all, given human nature, a prescription for misunderstanding, miscommunication, frustration and some tension.
So, as Jeff and I started to realize what was happening, I’m happy to say that we did what we would have advised clients to do in a similar situation. Last week, we got together with our administrative staff for the better part of two days and used our own “High Performance Team” process to iron things out. It was great: we worked together to define our roles, improve our processes, and increase our trust. Everyone seemed newly energized and clearer about how to move forward.
Jeff calls it “eating our own caviar.”
And it makes me wonder why more people (consultants, especially) don’t do it. If you’ve got good stuff, and you really believe in it – wouldn’t you want to use it yourself? Hmmm….