The Importance Of Taking The Time To Introspect

This summer, I spent an entire month interacting with our team in Amsterdam through a range of activities and exercises. The idea was to take a step back and do a deep internal alignment and to come up with a clearer vision around our what, why and how.

We wanted to identify our key initiatives, settle on a prioritization plan focussing our energies on coming up with a social contract and well-defined roles and responsibilities. We also created a master calendar that put a tentative date on all our key initiatives.

As an organization, it was important for us to reflect upon why we exist, how we plan to impact the world with our ideas, what are our main initiatives, how we prioritize and deal with them in our daily lives.

Deep-Dive Into Fixing Existing Issues

In this time we took to introspect, we looked for stronger strategies and organized our ideas in ways that made it easier for us to internally follow-up, while at the same time helping our stakeholders understand and connect with our purpose better.

The various exercises we did with our teammates helped clarify not just who did what, but also the kind of struggles and gaps they were currently experiencing.
That understanding helped us come up with strategies to utilize our current resources more wisely, while also preparing to bring in the additional resources we will need in order to achieve our vision for the future.

This exercise in introspection also helped us know each other better as a team, paving the way for an entirely co-created social agreement on how we all should work with each other.

All the meetings that we had in this month-long effort to align ourselves were spread over the better half of five working days.

But we were constantly at work, getting prepared for these sessions we dubbed, ‘Pressure Cooker Days’, and building things together during and after these meetings to achieve all the intended outcomes.

Pressure Cooker Days

As a team that has many remote participants, we know the value of being able to perform all our tasks even while travelling around the world.

However, we also know the importance of times we spend together as a team. Interacting face-to-face really deepens our connections, helps us understand each other better and to get things done. Which is why I spend three to five months a year in Netherlands so that I can connect with the team there and strengthen this amazing bond we share.

This last summer, which is always the best time to be in Netherlands according to me, we began to integrate our day-to-day operations at the Semco Style Institute and that gave birth to our Pressure Cooker Days.

These days were moments when the whole team came together to make strategic and operational decisions. Although my coworker, Hyke and I were the main facilitators for these days, the agenda for each session was co-created by the entire team.

The focus of these pressure cooker days was also on debriefing the entire team about the annual strategies and development plans that a part of the team finalized after spending some time with Ricardo in Brazil.

A Social Contract For Everyone By Everyone

Once we’d achieved alignment over these ideas and initiatives recommended by Ricardo, the team moved onto the social contract dynamic workshop.

The point of this exercise was to get everyone on the team to share in a very transparent way some of their deep aspirations, personal ideas and vision about where they’d like to be in the next five years.

Here’s a glimpse into the questions:

  • What are my contribution, ambitions and goals with respect to SSI and Leadwise?
  • What would you like to achieve in your personal life?
  • What would you like to achieve in your professional life?
  • What are your financial goals? Is the short-term more important to you? Or is the long-term more important to you?
  • How do you expect your life to be five years from now? And how can SSI/Leadwise contribute to that?

It was an exercise we’d already initiated via email and the workshop provided everybody an opportunity to explain their answers in person and start an interaction with the rest of the team.

Deriving The ‘Who’ And ‘How’ From Your ‘What’

After using these interactions to co-create the first draft of our social contract, we moved onto streamlining the operational end of our business.

We knew there were some gaps in who performed what role and who was responsible for what tasks. The exercise was aimed at bridging the roles gap and that was possible only by clearly defining what kind of business we were and wanted to be in the future.

Once we knew our what, it became clearer about the various roles, responsibilities and key tasks that needed to be performed in order to achieve that vision.

Another important outcome from this month-long introspective journey was the co-creation of a master calendar of initiatives.

It was a concise view of all our key initiatives, the date by when they needed to be completed, the priority level assigned to each and the resources that will be working towards making things happen. It’s a tool that will not only give us a bird's-eye-view of everything happening in the business, but help us optimize the use of resources as well.

Born To Shine, Not Survive

As a startup, we have so many things on the plate, with multiple initiatives and ideas running parallel, spending time as a team to re-prioritize and redefine things internally was just what the doctor ordered.

Otherwise, we’d have very easily gotten lost in our daily routine and to stepped into autopilot mode, doing things just to survive. But we weren’t born to just survive - we were born to shine and really impact the world positively. And while it’s important to conduct business, it’s equally important to know yourself and redefine the agreements between your team members to ensure maximum performance.

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