From the Desk (and Mind) of Marc Landsberg

Building The World’s Kindest Company – part 2, Scale

Building The World’s Kindest Company – part 2, Scale (aka, No Leadership Team…keep reading, please)

As we work to build the world’s kindest company, it occurs to me that a big part of that sentence is the word, “world’s.”

Indeed, quite an ambition. Not Chicago’s kindest company, not even the kindest company in the River West neighborhood of Chicago, but in fact, the world’s kindest company.

I’ve forever been fascinated with the challenge of scaling a services business.

The only goal – to create more and more value for clients, as efficiently and as quickly as possible.

Despite all of our technology, tools, and enabling platforms, socialdeviant is first and foremost, a people business.

For us, scale comes in many flavors and shapes:

1. First, we are working to productize/codify our service offerings, so they’re repeatable at a high quality standard. This enables us to be hyper-efficient, keep our costs down, and work really fast.

2. Second, we allocate and deploy resources as efficiently as possible, using a collection of workflow tools to manage our efforts and deliver the greatest possible impact for our clients. We have a robust freelance database tagged against a variety of very discrete skills (think LinkedIn skills) that we can sort and search against, to find precisely the right talent for the job with no wasted motion or expense.

3. Third, we use a variety of collaboration and workflow tools that enable us to work on parallel threads efficiently, quickly, and in many cases, virtually right alongside our clients.

4. Fourth, we’re beginning to build some personnel infrastructure, to handle the various strategic, operational, resourcing, and best practices tasks that come along with a growing agency. We’ve named a President, (Linda Johnson, simply amazing), a head of Operations and Finance David V Shuck, and have a resourcing and manager Leslie Patinkin. More to follow, soon. As we grow and scale socialdeviant, I wanted to say one more thing about this final point.
You’ll notice I hesitated to use the term “Leadership Team.”


Because generally, I really can’t stand leadership teams, for a bunch of reasons:

1. They tend to navel gaze.

2. They meet, just to meet. And those meetings are always behind closed doors, with no agenda published for all to see.

3. When they meet for their many “offsites,” they tend to meet in really nice places, like Miami, or Cannes, or Istanbul. Have you ever heard of a leadership team meeting in Topeka Kansas (no offense, Topeka…I’m sure you’re a fine city for offsites, and I’d be pleased to get an invite from your Chamber of Commerce pitching us for our next all company shindig.)

4. These nice place meetings add a boatload of cost, and almost never ever create any value for clients.

5. And finally, they create a sense of haves and have nots. If there is a leadership team, you’re either on it, or you’re not. Which means, right away, there’s a schism in the company – a few folks feeling quite entitled, and a few folks potentially feeling quite disenfranchised.

So, @socialdeviant, no leadership teams, ever. Leaders, absolutely. Leaders are what scale a business, and leaders are what create more and more value for clients.

Every deviant is a leader. Of clients. Of teams. Of projects. Of our IP. Of it all.


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