Thinslices – different is possible
Thinking back, 15 years ago, when I departed home to pursue College in another town, I was ecstatic to leave. At the time that I am leaving Thinslices I am deeply saddened and somewhat afraid. I so very much wish to have also felt this way back then, when I left my real family in Bacau.
The best kind of sadness is that which results of the realisation that your purpose lies elsewhere, even if you already have something great. It comes from an understanding that, for now, what you had to do is as done as you can get it to be. Time to move forward and forward means something new.
The best kind of fear comes from the wisdom of knowing that your ambitions are going to take a lot of work, a lot of risk, a lot of vulnerability.
Without further ado, here are some things I’ve learnt while working within this impressive mass of people:
Think globally, be bold, be yourself. Especially in business.
I’ve started my own company, earlier than Thinslices was born. I meant to do roughly the same thing with it. Sitting here, 9 and a half years later, the two do not compare at all. They are both still in business. Thinslices is simply at another level.
The notable difference is that, in the early days of IT+, I never even dreamed of having the courage to go after my own clients. I drove the company right into deals that were monopolised by other single organisations. They controlled the final buyers. I did this because I was young and inexperienced. I knew noting about sales. Ultimately that guaranteed that the business in Iasi will never rise above low level outsourcing.
In comparison, the people behind Thinslices were going after targets that seemed way out of their league. And they made it work. That mindset made it the organisation it is today.
Understand Business Process, especially if you fear it
Process was one of the keywords associated with my presence and contribution in Thinslices. Far less than I would have liked but sufficient for me to make a few relevant changes to the way the team thinks.
The formalisation associated with the term triggered significant resistance at first. The “vox populi” of Thinslices always dreaded the risk of “becoming a corporation”. And Process was, for them, surely a vehicle for such undesired transformation. It’s with great satisfaction that I leave behind an organisation that has Process as part of its strategic approach, in a very unique way. I also love to know that some of the same people that resisted Process in the first place now actively improve it out of personal initiative.
Process is neither good nor bad by itself. It is what people make it to be. Its bad fame is associated with the fact that it’s very common for it to be pushed top-down in an organisation. Often it is cumbersome to apply and does not favour people doing better work, as it stands for control and bland efficiency. During my time with Thinslices I grew my desire to upset the sad fame that Business Process has. Existing results are encouraging. It is one of the energy sources that I take with me in my new journey.
Talk to me about Process, anytime. I’m probably the only guy you know that loves it with professional passion.
Accountability and Responsibility are hard to translate into Romanian
In the land of jobs everyone is busy. Sadly, doing your job sometimes does not yield the results that are expected, especially in complex teams that include people on the client’s side. When everyone does his/her job and yet there seems to be something on the table left not done, that’s when it pays to understand about Accountability and Responsibility.
I have not managed to complete my mission regarding this topic in Thinslices. To this day it stays with me as on of the greater topics that I need to be better at teaching. And I need to figure out how to call these terms in Romanian.
Help your people understand the business, not just their role
Humans connect with what they understand. They also fear what they don’t understand, most stuff at an underlying and invisible level. You want your people to understand what they are a part of, you want them to connect, to be engaged. They can’t do that if they only grasp their box. Going over a team of 20 makes this a challenge. They are still expected to focus on their primary craft, after all.
A modern business is a Learning business
I bet that in 10 years max people will skip college altogether and simply join businesses. And those businesses will assume their educational role. You know how now it is common that your business would have you learn another language to improve your capacity to create value? Exactly like that only for a far larger curricula.
Expect a war for talent. Expect the demonstrated capacity to learn to be the single most sought after trait. Speaking of which, tale a look at TeamFluent.
Your role description should first write “be great at working with people” and only then details about your craft
I’ve been there, next to our people as they realised the hardest part of their work is not technical. I’ve hardly ever seen a software development challenge that frustrated a team more than the usual.
The biggest challenge we ever faced was in dealing with the complexity of human relations involved in the quest to deliver high performance digital products. Thinslices teams are working directly with the client on all projects. They are in the thick of it, be it good or bad. I then realised that what made it even worse is that no-one was expecting or accepting this as part of “work”. It was considered as something personal, on the side, un-desirable even. And this perspective made everyone very-very reactive to emotional events.
Once we recognised it as something we needed to manage, something to learn and improve for, a lot changed to the better.
In an Agile company everyone ends up being a “Junior” at something
And needs to be managed as such. This is one of the key reasons why some people actually like very structured companies. In a corporation, once you made it to “Big-Shot Level” you’re never exposed to the kind of treatment Juniors have to endure. Unfortunately that also means you won’t be trying anything new.
In an Agile company (most startups included) this luxury is dangerous. People that add value here have a high degree of hunger for trying new things. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that if a Senior Something tries something new for the first time she’ll nail it from the get-go. I’ve seen a lot of misaligned expectations and unnecessary frustration coming from ignoring this simple truth.
Rock your meeting rhythm and you’ll rock your business
Meeting get a lot of heat, ever since forever. The word is “effective”. However that’s only part of the story. Think higher than that. Think “meeting system design”. You need the right meetings at the right intervals with the right people in them. You need the right principles behind this design so that the meeting rhythm can evolve.
Meetings are extremely important for any business. They are the effective pulse of blood (I mean information) that drives action from the heart to … everything. Aside from this they are the perfect opportunity for one of the most effective traction drivers: peers holding each-other mutually accountable.
Oh my, quite a lengthy tale and I could still go on. It’s best that I stop, for now.
Thinslices, it’s been great. Here’s to Tenics!
So, what do you think about it!?