Who Gets Shot

When I joined Half Off Depot I was part of a senior management team that all came on board the same day. It's a great team and we are making great progress, but when you bring on a bunch of new leaders at the same time it can create some general confusion. Confusion is bad. Clarity is good.

When it comes to roles and responsibilities a way to add a little clarity is to think in terms of who gets in trouble if something goes wrong (which is very different from who gets credit when something goes right). I call this who gets shot. It is an interesting way to think about things.

In a growth phase startup you have various people that lead various functional groups and regardless of how well the startup is doing there are always pressure points. An area that might be lagging the rest in some way. Imagine the team sitting around a big conference table. Imagine a little tank sitting in the middle of that table. The tank turret is always rotating and turning toward someone. The key is to solve the pressure point before the turret stops rotating and the gunner has time to take aim.

If we are not moving out product fast enough or the product we have is not functioning properly the turret turns to the CTO.

If we are not adding subscribers at a fast enough rate and acceptable cost the turret is turning to the marketing guy.

I was brought on to scale Half Off's sales effort. Getting our sales team more productive. Expanding into new markets. Doing bigger deals. If we do not meet our overall revenue targets the turret turns my way. Don't fix it fast enough I am the guy that gets shot. And it flows on down. Market managers miss their numbers? Here come the tank. Sales reps don't generate a certain amount of revenue. Here comes the tank. As a leader it is my role ensure that as many of the troops as possible make it through the battle without taking a bullet. I don't want anyone to have a gun pointing at them.

I used the tank and gun analogy to explain things to my team. Instant clarity. Communication is key to clarity and sometimes little analogies help communication.

Tanks and guns. Carry on.


July 12, 2011  |  Comments  |  Tweet  |  Posted in Management