I am starting a business this year and was encouraged to share that experience with you. I plan to write a series of posts that go behind the scenes as I get ready to launch a web app.
Everyone’s entrepreneurship journey is a bit different, and there’s no “right” way to start a business. My hope is that this gives you some ideas for your own projects or provides insight into what happens prior to coding, because a lot of planning happens before your fingers touch the keyboard!
For the first post, I figured I’d explain a little about myself and how I came up with the idea for the business in the first place. After all, our experiences shape the problems we perceive in the world, and those in turn serve as the seeds of potential business opportunities.
I have been a full-time engineer for about eight years, working primarily in verification and validation on embedded systems. In the past few years, I’ve taken on a variety of leadership roles, becoming a Scrum Master, Product Owner, Release Train Engineer, and now Solution Train Engineer.
In that time, my responsibilities changed from building a product to managing a product to managing people, all of which require different skills. The latter resonates with me the most because I get to spend my day trying to make life easier for the people I work with, helping remove the most pernicious impediments to our software deliveries.
One thing you’ll find out quickly once you’re hired at a large company is that you are but one part of the overall machine: a valuable, necessary addition but not independent. Without a great team, it’s hard to take on big challenges. But what makes a team great?
I have around 20 teams working for me, so that’s something I spend a lot of my time thinking about. In order to improve our execution, I have to find a way to make those 20 teams as successful as possible.
Did you know that you are happier and perform better when you are around people you can trust and rely on? That’s what Google found anyway; they did a study called Project Aristotle that identified the factors that led to high-performing teams at Google. They were:
- Psychological safety: do you feel like you can take risks around your team members?
- Dependability: can you count on your team members to do the job?
- Structure and clarity: do you understand your objectives and job expectations?
- Meaning: do you have a personal connection to the work?
- Impact: does your work make a difference?
What is most telling is that the top two indicators of high-performing teams at Google were largely based on the strength of the team members’ relationships. There are lots of other resources on this topic. If that’s something you’re interested in, check out the Tuckman model and Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team as well.
This challenge is central to the business I’m starting. It is, in some ways, the management challenge of our time. A retention report published in 2019 said that 27% of employees left their jobs in 2018, and of those, 75% of them could have been prevented.
But it’s not just an issue for managers: as employees, we want to work with great people towards meaningful goals with opportunities for growth. In other words, we need to create the conditions for high-performing teams not just for the sake of performance but to attract, engage, and retain highly-talented people.
Initially, I’m focused on building a job seeking platform called One Work to help people find careers that align with their personal missions. The goal is to foster employee/employer relationships based on values and culture, one that creates the conditions for high engagement at the outset. The job seeking platform will lay the foundation for what’s to come, something I’ll discuss later when I talk about writing a vision statement.
That’s all for now though! Questions and feedback are most welcome. I’ll use that to influence what I write about next.
Do something great today!