Jeff: Sometimes, the only thing you can do is the only thing you can do. Profound, I know, in its total lack of profundity. But that’s how I felt yesterday afternoon, delivering Laura for the second time in three weeks to the hospital. It looks like she’s going to be there a while.
The pancreas is a fickle organ. Laura’s is apparently more fickle than most. Two weeks in a British hospital clearly wasn’t satisfactory, leaving us with one – and only one – option. Our quarterback is going on the Injured Reserve list.
Laura and I operate Tin Cans as a full partnership. We each have strengths and weaknesses, and we each have our particular roles to play. But, along with the rest of the gang, we’re a team. The simple truth is when one teammate is down, everyone on the team is affected.
But, like any good team, we have redundancies. We have backups.
We have it covered.
Like the NFL teams all headed into the playoffs this weekend, our backups are better than many other teams’ first stringers. Laura will be able to rest – and rest assured that she’s covered.
About 10 months ago, we started working on a long-term growth methodology for the company. There are several good ways to do this, but we chose to follow the plan outlined by Gino Wickman in his book Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business. (Not an affiliate link, just a hearty endorsement for the read.)
The first thing we discovered was that Tin Cans does a lot of things right. I credit Laura, because of the painstakingly thorough analytical process she put us through before we ever sat down to write the business plan. The second thing we learned was that while we weren’t doing things “wrong” per se, we were NOT setting ourselves up for growing the company. In fact, in some ways we were quite literally spinning our wheels.
In this business, it’s not uncommon to refer to a company’s growth as an accordion. No, really. You sign a big client, you hire a full complement of designers, writers, programmers, etc., to see the work done. You complete a major project, and you reward the hard work of your team by laying off half of them. Up and down. In and out. Over and over again.
I’m not saying it’s right – that’s just the agency world.
Here, we’ve tried really hard to not do that. We’ve had a few comings and goings, but for the most part, Team Cans has been remarkably consistent over the past several years. Where we erred, according to Wickman, was in our hiring planning.
According to Traction, you don’t hire to fill an immediate need. That doesn’t provide the lift you need to grow the company. Hiring that way simply spreads things out. Wickman recommends hiring based on a simple dictum: “Delegate and Elevate.” If you want to grow, he says, you hire people specifically to elevate someone else in the company.
Looking at a company’s hierarchy like a pyramid, it makes sense. As long as each new hire is delegated something important from someone above, that new hire elevates not just his or her supervisor, but everyone up the chain, freeing those people to assume new responsibilities, take on more projects, expand their horizons a little bit further.
That’s how a company really grows. More importantly, that’s how people in the company are able to quickly, efficiently and expertly fill in for their teammate in a pinch.
These next few weeks, without Laura, aren’t going to be fun. But, outside these walls, only clients who are used to talking with Laura on a daily basis will even notice.