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Field Notes

Field Notes #051: Rely on the Process, Trust in the Team

Rely on the process, trust in the team

A process is effective for a lot of reasons, but not all of them have to do with the process itself. Often, it’s more about how you use the process under different circumstances.

Sometimes, you sit down at your desk and discover several things are on fire. A circus of problems have appeared seemingly overnight, and you’re the one with all the answers. 

You’ve got a well-oiled process, but the fires are burning away. What now? Do you ditch the process and dive right in with the buckets you’ve got on hand? 

Or do you stick to the process, call in the fire department, and let them take the extra five minutes to drive over with tanks of water, industrial hoses, and years of expertise? 

Cultivate healthy urgency

When problems arise, many folks jump into action straight away. They leap before they look. When they spot a fire, they grab their bucket and do their best to put it out alone.

This instinct to act isn’t bad, but it should be questioned. How are you solving the problem? Was your first idea the best idea? What’s driving your solution?

Urgency is needed less often than people think. At least, certain types of urgency—in my experience, urgency is often based in fear and anxiety. This breeds an unhealthy demand for instant reaction, unrealistic expectations, acting without a plan, and discoordination.

We don’t want to work fueled by anxiety. We want to work from a place of trust.

There are methods to cultivate trust that you can and should build into your process. This is where a good process comes in—and even more so, a good company culture surrounding that process.

Rely on the process, trust in the team

The key element of success in times of unpredictability and turmoil is your team.  At Omniscient, we believe that when a problem arises, your team—and the process your team has created—can get you through it.

It’s the thought and time your team has already put into building their process that will lead you to a solution. In building a process, you and your team have become experts on the steps to success.

Let’s say a client takes a look at a piece of content, finds it doesn’t match their ICP, and they want it rewritten. Resist the urge to solve the problem as quickly as possible all by yourself. Ask for help. 

Allow your strategy team to use their existing process to advise on how to better approach the topic with the client in mind. Let your editorial team utilize their process to move the draft through edits quickly and resubmit it to the client.

I’m not saying new ideas and on-your-toes thinking isn’t required in a situation like this—it certainly can be. But your team is the steadfast thing that lies at the heart of those new ideas.

It’s not necessarily your teammates’ ability to think on their feet or learn a new skill quickly. It’s their ability to stay the course and do what they do best. Your team is your fire department—if you see a fire, call them in. Trust them.

Rely on your team’s intimate knowledge of these processes, how they work, and how to do them well. Most of all, rely on your teammates’ ability to support and guide one another.

This is why I love editing. It is about catching grammatical errors, sure, but it’s also about helping others do their best work to create something new. It’s about acting as a support when people need guidance. 

How to be a firefighter

Anyone in any role can be a supporter. (Or, if you’re still sticking with this extended metaphor, a firefighter.) 

The Omniscient team is great at processes, and it’s because we work well together. We communicate well about how to support one another, and we follow through. In all that we do, we lead with empathy.

Here are some firefighting strategies we employ when we cross paths with an unusual (and sometimes urgent) problem:

  • Sync up with the team
  • Identify what went wrong 
  • Use the tools you have 
  • Lean on your experience and expertise
  • Put it in perspective

One of our company principles is to “make the boat go faster.” This won’t work if only one person is paddling. And the group will only get so far if you’re all paddling out of sync.

You’ve got to paddle together, entering and exiting the water with your oars at the same time. Then, you’ll cruise to where you need to go.

Recommended Reads

  1. Your New KPIs to Gauge Content Quality – How do you measure true content quality? It’s more complicated than you think. 
  2. 19 Essential Content Strategy Books (Recommended by Actual Content Strategists) – Here’s some recommended reading material courtesy of actual content strategists. 
  3. Building Marketing Programs and Teams from Scratch and How to Hire Great Marketers with Charlie Liang – On a recent podcast, one of our co-founders David discussed the challenges of building the right team for early-stage startups. We recommend giving it a listen.