My husband works for Groupon and has developed an incredible amount of insight into sales strategy and operations. They are a truly data-driven company, and the kinds of analysis they’re conducting and the level of data they’re leveraging is astounding. Drilling a level deeper, he’s constantly bringing home fascinating tidbits around optimized sales tactics — from the time of day, to the length of call, to the tone of voice, to everything in between. He has even more mind-blowing insight around incentivizing salespeople to hit their targets, motivating a young salesforce, and — in general — being a bad-ass manager. (He may be the only person I’ve ever met that was a born manager. He’s a force.)
But one of the most powerful pieces of advice he’s brought home came from one of his managers, who said:
“If you’re doing the same thing at the end of the year that you were doing at the beginning of the year, you’re not doing your job.”
What a powerful charge for personal, professional, and organizational growth. Our CEO often says: “We want to obsolete ourselves.” It took me awhile to come around to this phrase: it’s intentionally aggressive and even challenging to digest. And yet. For a non-profit trying to solve a big problem, evolution to the point of extinction is the ultimate goal. Solve the problem not just fully but fundamentally — at the root — and you won’t need to be around anymore. This, of course, requires a massive vision and confidence in our ability to literally change the fabric of our culture in substantial and meaningful ways. It may mean mandating financial education; it may mean bringing better, more affordable products and services to the un- and under-banked; it may building pop culture references reflecting greater fiscal responsibility and financial mindfulness. It probably means all of these things and more. But at the root of all of this is the assumption that, in order to deliver something powerful, we must continue to evolve and grow and tackle and iterate until the problem is totally eradicated.
Though my husband’s boss was not speaking in terms of our organizational mission, I see the thread that ties here. And I also see the incredible power in charging your employees to push themselves to grow, to continue to solve new problems and create new efficiencies, to resist the desire to rest on one’s laurels. In a fast-paced company like Groupon, it’s a problem if your staff aren’t changing given the rate of evolution the organization continues to see. I love the idea of instilling this sense of expected change and growth up front. For one thing, it prevents the likelihood that folks will rebel when things change too much or too quickly; they will have been onboarded with the expectation that things will and should and must change.
So – I digressed a bit from my earlier goal of sharing 5 learnings per week. I may oscillate between one big learning or five smaller ones. This blog, too, will evolve.