GM ShapeShift community;
As one of the resident soapbox speakers, I have been known to engage in a few DAO topics and I am sure offer thoughts that often go against the grain. I am all for “positive” and constructive communication, and by positive I mean it has the net gain of providing objectivity and ability to bring thought and action within the community. I would like to purposefully and directly point out that I am not using “positive” as in meaning we focus on uplifting egos, seek to conform to the “easy” non controversial issues or topics that are intended to limit expression.
Topic: Hard choices -
I will once again state wether individuals choose to believe or not, I am not intending to attack any individuals or speak to any specific action that I do not have all of the accompanying data. I am simply stating a limited observation and cautions from what has been shared as a community member who has broad professional and work experience.
As it pertains to “Fiscal Responsibility” I have frequently come across the common practice and often misconception that removing individuals or “down” sizing departments and operations is in direct correlation with accomplishing this overall task. This is in most cases a costly mistake on many levels and productivity fronts.
As stated I am not speaking to a specific action but as a general precedent to common situations, to point out caution and provide objective insight.
This is in the vain of thought that quick and decisive solutions whether it is ripping off a band aid quickly or just removing a few now “magically” irrelevant or “leaky” tasks or roles patches up the fiscal hemorrhaging. Fiscal responsibility isn’t a faucet that can be turned on and off in times of determined need, and using it as such has in countless examples instead poisoned organizational process, capacity, and capability with the corrosion of value, need, and company culture. If practiced correctly it is an ongoing, proactive and determined process that looks to mitigate drastic and unexpected change thru reactive response when possible.
I have heard the voices and I know that many will say well this is a new organization and we are here now so we have to do what is needed. To that I would say sorry I am getting tired of that comment. I have pointed for a need of process and strategy, to put in place the ability to build on sound and deliberate structure Vs we just figure it out and add process after the fact on unstable footing. This has been stated from the start, a few months into the DAO and each time I have heard this excuse I have said ok but it only gets harder the longer it is put off. If you don’t do these things in good times then the “decisions” are much more dictated with less options and flexibility. So now we find ourselves here with less options and I am still seeing a rush without strategy.
Please be aware that I am not in any way stating that obsolescence of “need” isn’t a real and determining factor that has a distinct and different intended purpose. The “need” in this statement has many different descriptions but as a few examples can present in market product/service demand, change in process (effectiveness and efficiency) repurpose of use, and emergence of new talent or ability.
Without seemingly too obtuse (this is a complex topic with nuanced subject matter and emotionally charged sentiment) finding a block or blocks of expense, in this specific case in the form of compensation and just removing it can seem straight to the point in achieving the goal of being a responsible manager of budgets. But this can also be in direct contrast to the responsibility of management to the individuals you are tasked with ensuring have the capacity to achieve and provide continued value to not only you but the organization as a whole. In this role of providing the tools to accomplish task as a manager/leader the ability to evaluate many different variables of not only just value, but also productivity, capability and more for the past, present and future are just small pieces of a larger puzzle. Building and sustaining productivity in itself has many complex, frail, and diverse pieces and when releasing a “bull” or a “bear” in these delicate ecosystems it can have lasting consequences and reverberation beyond a single department/workstream.
The responsibility of a leader or any role should be held accountable beyond the luster off the individual’s gains (compensation and clout). I have seen in my professional career those who do a task/role for a period of time often under a good leader who provides for ability and more, then make the incorrect assessment of ease of capability and the capacity to be a leader. After which making demands of value and position believing that the rewards are pined to individual gains. The role becomes tied to the value of you get this title you ‘deserve’ this Vs what you are providing and the value it creates for others.
Accountability should be to the overall and evolving tasks that are defined for that leader, as a DAO we the community in theory have been given that responsibility of determining task and ensuring that the goals are accomplished, in traditional organizations the executive team or board would in theory do so.
In building to achieve greater productivity, among other variables trust is a contributing factor. This in itself has distinct aspects and can be in many cases bi-directional. Examples can include but are not limited to:
Working together not against each other
The leader or team member has the best interests/intentions for the team and can work to achieve those, separating individual needs or interests
Opportunity isn’t limited, is fair, and open to all who display and achieve the determined capability and disclosed objectives
Stated objectives are inclusive and not exclusive
Value is determine on a fair and unbiased calculation that could be qualitative or based on a shared exchange that each party is held accountable too
Building trust includes the conscious situational awareness that compromise should not limited to a few and that each individual’s situation is different and has value. I am of coarse referring to internal trust but there is also an external trust that can be influenced by both internal and external forces. Without trust any built organizational foundation can be fractured and at an undetermined indiscriminate pace, but I would caution to say faster than you would think. I would also add that in global and remote work organizations this risk can be magnified depending on the desired and type of contributions. I will move past this point in tying it into the above statement of releasing a “bull" or “bear” into a delicate ecosystem and having lasting consequences and reverberation beyond a single department/workstream.
I am not posting this to demand, condone, or prove one specific point. Please be aware I may have a different approach that has been achieved through many years of leadership that in some part has come though trial and error in experience. I see things in at a slightly different angle and choose to share but to dismiss it as I don’t know that person so they must not know what they are talking about would be dangerous.
To this point while I do see Fiscal Responsibility having a valued place and playing a role I believe the context is being used broadly and incorrectly focussed at the moment. It is very relevant to say cutting expense without a defined solution or determined goal just leads to additional problems. I am stating that without pointing fingers or discounting difficult conversations or decisions. Having just a generic goal like we need runway or our Treasury is concerning, is a loaded statement not a solution. Doing the work, fiscal modeling, budgeting and having provable metrics or KPI’s so that informed determinations and actionable decisions can be made is just the pre-work of that longer process.
When we “downsize” teams what effect does it have on the ability to achieve stated and determined goals, what are the risks? What do we loose in the tangible and what are the possible intangible risks? What can we do to mitigate this? What are the risks Vs the rewards, this includes the present, near term and long term. Do we believe that talent is readily available or would be at the time of need? What is the cost or would be the cost to get this talent, including training, time and effort? Given past example and history would talent be willing to work in the established organizational culture? Is it better to retain talent Vs sift or roll the dice with the options at the time of need (which is already to late) and opportunity cost is a factor.
These are just a few examples of questions that can have relevance to larger questions and or problems. I am saying this coming from having years of experience in an industry that has very clearly defined and regular cycles of expansion and contraction. Being a first hand witness to the effects on industry culture, talent, and flexibility to adapt in times of need.
My thoughts which isn’t stated as a save us solution, but as an approach that would need its own defined strategy and determined goals. This should be a time of increased productivity and building role value. Adopt better efficiency, effective communication, and be open to discovery with willingness to take on the difficult larger issues. Not a time of panic, rushed pressured decisions, or the allure of immediate pressure release without root causation or determination if it is a very temporary solution with hidden cost and consequence. Choosing the solution on the surface doesn’t mean that it isn’t like an iceberg and can have a lot more going on under that surface leading to longer term problems and harder solutions.
I have placed a good amount of thoughts and effort here and would continue the conversation if so desired but contrary to soapbox belief I don’t like typing or speaking just for the sake of it, and I am fully aware of the limited attention span afforded me with the wrap it up music playing in the background.