171: From Tactics to Strategy

Tim just completed his quarterly strategy review meeting at work. As such, he's in the perfect head space to teach Adam and Ben what strategy is; how strategy differs from tactics; and, how OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) can be used in order to ensure that the work to be done actually rolls-up to one of the company's core strategies. In the end, Ben still has no idea what's going on (as per usual); but, Adam is down to clown.

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[00:00:00] Highlight

[00:00:00] Adam: the definition of the example that comes immediately to mind is the military, the general will say, we need to take that hill, right? That's the strategy, take the hill. And it doesn't concern himself or she doesn't concern herself with how are we going to take that hill, what's the best way, when should we do it, And they leave the tactics of taking the hill to the people that are going to be implementing, process or whatever. I really like that example, I think it paints a nice clear picture.

[00:00:44] Intro

[00:00:44] Adam: Okay, here we go. It is show number 171, and on today's show, we are going to talk about changing your mindset from thinking tactically to thinking strategically. What does that mean? How do you do it? And is there ice cream at the end? And, but first, as usual, we'll start with our triumphs and fails.

[00:01:00] Adam: Carol's not able to be with us tonight. She's, busy in D. C. doing government things. I think, I know she's in

[00:01:06] Ben: hush. I,

[00:01:09] Adam: and not able to make it out to record. so, I guess that makes it my turn to go first.

[00:01:13] Adam's Fail

[00:01:13] Adam: I'm gonna start us off with a fail, and the fail is that for some odd reason, compliance work just gets under my skin instantly.

[00:01:23] Adam: So we've, we've talked in the past about, you know, when you make a phone call to, you know, refill, refill a prescription or, you know, I need to refund a thing or whatever, and you get the, the IVR system and it's like, you know, say your account number or whatever. And I'm like, but I have to cough. I don't want to talk to the system.

[00:01:42] Adam: My blood just instantly boils. The steam starts coming out of my ears. The flames, flames, flames on the side of my face. Anybody get that reference?

[00:01:51] Ben: I know it, but I can't place it. It

[00:01:57] Adam: isn't she the mom in, Schitt's Creek? Is that the same actress? No,

[00:02:01] Adam: I don't, god, I don't think so. I mean, it was a, Clue was a long time ago, but I don't think that's the same actress.

[00:02:06] Tim: sorry. Didn't mean

[00:02:07] Adam: Yeah, I did just see her in the trailer for the new Beetlejuice Beetlejuice movie. She was on weeds. Anyway, we're way off topic already. Yes, so compliance work. It's like one of, maybe it's not compliance per se, but like the specific people that I'm working with and the way that they're bad at their jobs.

[00:02:24] Adam: But, just like, maybe it's incompetence that immediately gets under my skin and boils my blood. Cause I just go from fine to I will kick your puppy instantly. And I love puppies. And I don't, I don't want to be that person. I want to be more stoic. I want to be more even keeled, but it's like there's a tightness in the chest, and I feel hot, and just like there's a storm cloud.

[00:02:50] Adam: I get an instant headache and a storm cloud in my head that's just like, there's thunder and lightning, and I'm seeing red. And it's just because you sent me a Word doc instead of, instead of using the tool that we're paying for, right? Like,

[00:03:04] Ben: is frustrating stuff. We have a customer, I can't obviously name this customer, but, we've had this customer for years and we have complied with all their security requirements day one. And for whatever reason this year, they came back and they said, Hey, you're not complying with this new requirement that we've added this year.

[00:03:26] Ben: And if you don't fix that, we're going to find you in breach of our contract. And we're going to sue you for our contract amount.

[00:03:34] Adam: wow.

[00:03:35] Ben: now we're having a conversation internally where we're like, do we really care?

[00:03:40] Adam: Right.

[00:03:40] Ben: Like, should we just give them all of their money back? Or is it gonna, like, is it going to cost less to just lose them as a client and give them all of their money back than it is to actually fulfill the, this like crazy requirement that they

[00:03:53] Adam: The contract has been altered. Pray I do not alter it further.

[00:03:56] Ben: But it's one of those things where you're just like, really? That's what we have to focus on now? We have so many other things to worry about.

[00:04:03] Adam: For real. And that, honestly, you just described compliance in a nutshell. Right? Like, there are, I have said it a number of times, there are legitimately good things that have come about through the process that I've been going through where it's been, I don't even want to know at this point. It's got to be close to a year and a half, or if, I mean, God, please help me if it's been almost two years that I've been working on this.

[00:04:26] Ben: I don't remember a time you not working on compliance.

[00:04:29] Adam: And, so there have been good things that have come up, but That is by far the, the minority case, right? We're talking like 80, 20, 80 percent of this stuff is like, okay, I want you to make a tech startup and you're going to hire an accountant and you're not going to tell them anything about your business or, you know, how it works, what the business model or anything like that, but you have, you have to let them tell you how to run the business. And that's just, it's, now you're supposed to tell them about your business model and that sort of thing and they're supposed to kind of take that into account. And I think that's part of what's frustrating me is that I feel like they are not incorporating things that we talked about five minutes ago, let alone last week. They're just not carrying that knowledge forward and that's make, that makes it infuriating. But, yeah, it's just. It feels bad, right? I mean, we've mentioned on here before, I know with you, Tim, like how this whole compliance industry is almost just a, it's all made up in order to create a, it's like created requirements in order to generate an industry so people can make money.

[00:05:34] Adam: They're just like made up a thing so that they can charge you for it. Yeah.

[00:05:38] Tim: I feel ya. You know, um, kind of similar, but not exactly the same. The. Thing I've been going through for more than two years, probably three, four years of, of trying to get this, a contract with a bank signed internally with our legal counsel, we have a new financial controller or CFO, who came in and he came over from the banking world.

[00:06:03] Tim: So he's very familiar with them. And so, you know, I was explaining to him kind of my frustrations and problems with, with trying to get this banking agreement signed. And, after he asked a lot of questions, eventually he said, he says, you know, I know the frustration that these, these due diligence requests and, and things that they asked for, for proof, it's, it's all BS, it's bureaucratic BS, all of it, every single bit of it.

[00:06:28] Tim: And, he says, but you gotta, you gotta play the game. You gotta dance to their tune. To make them happy. He said, he gave me an example. He was working with, he was working with the banking software company in Ukraine before the war. And then the war comes in and now there's all these sanctions and everything against Russia.

[00:06:46] Tim: And so all the, you know, all these people are asking for compliance proof from the banking software company that you're not doing business with. With Russia. And they're like, well, no, no, we don't, you know, we don't do university. Well, they're like, well, who's your partners? Well, you know, it was JP Morgan and this, and they're like, well, have you, do you, have you confirmed that JP Morgan isn't?

[00:07:05] Tim: And it's like, how am I supposed to do that?

[00:07:07] Adam: And how am I, okay, so JP Morgan then has 50 people that they work with and I'm supposed to go and chase them down and it's like, no.

[00:07:13] Tim: Yep. He's like, so he says, he says, well, I think we're going to do Tim is we're going to get you someone from the bank because we're part of, so we have like multiple different, like branding companies. we're. Our company is a part of a group that we call VinCora. And VinCora is insurance and banking.

[00:07:32] Tim: It's split in two sides. So we don't really interact much with the banking folks, but he says, I'm going to grab someone from the banking side who's used to dealing with these bank contracts, just be your official, bureaucrat BS, declutter fire. Right. And I'm like, Oh, you're right. That's what I need.

[00:07:49] Tim: I really need, cause the same with me. It's like, I see these requirements and I'm an engineer and I'm thinking, this is just stupid. There's no way to prove this. So are you, you're basically asking me to, to not lie to you, but not tell you the truth,

[00:08:04] Adam: Right.

[00:08:04] Tim: right? The truth of it is like, it's impossible. What you're asking for is impossible.

[00:08:08] Tim: I can't tell you a hundred percent that this is never going to happen, but they're like, they, they want an answer that basically says, you know, here's how we've made it, but that you dance around it, right? And so I'm like, that's brilliant. Maybe, maybe you guys need a, a bureaucrat.

[00:08:22] Adam: Well, and then there's other things. It's like, maybe, maybe these, these things are more baked into like what SOC 2 is in general. And so maybe it's less the specific accountants that we're working with and more the framework itself. But there's things like, you know, you're supposed to have a data protection officer and you're supposed to document. Like, you're supposed to have an onboarding checklist. And I'm like, I guess, sort of? We kind of have like a list of things that we need to make sure we don't forget to do, but that's not a very like official, you know, we just, we're seven people. We don't have an HR department.

[00:08:57] Adam: We don't have an accounting department. One person does like nine jobs and

[00:09:01] Tim: Even in bigger, even in bigger companies, you got, they're like, Oh, it's, it's SOC time again. Did we do this checklist on onboarding? No, let's go do it now. Well, the guy's been working there for six months. Go ahead and do it now.

[00:09:12] Adam: yeah, and backdate it.

[00:09:13] Tim: Yeah, exactly. No, don't do that, but do that.

[00:09:17] Adam: So, yes, my blood is, boiling on an almost daily basis right now because I have to keep working with them. But, you know, That's apparently my job. I'm going to keep doing my job. How about you, Ben? What do you got going on?

[00:09:30] Ben's Triumph

[00:09:30] Ben: I'm going to go with a triumph. It's very loose triumph this week, but I've been working on this exporting of prototypes. I'm, I'm trying to come up with a plan to help people get their data out of our system in a way that's a little bit more robust, a little bit more Consumable, kind of more of an, an archival file experience than I don't know.

[00:09:52] Ben: And so I'm, I'm, I've been playing around with building a little Angular application that represents this offline version of a prototype.

[00:10:01] Adam: So a prototype is like what you build in InVision.

[00:10:03] Ben: yes, it's, it's one of the, it's, I would say, so as we've talked before, we have a legacy platform where my expertise lies, we have a modern platform. In the legacy platform, the prototype is the primary gesture.

[00:10:17] Ben: There are other things you can do. But the prototype is like an order of magnitude or two more, more used than anything else in the platform. So that's, that's where my focus has been. There's, there's only so much bandwidth. And

[00:10:31] Adam: so much, Ben, to go

[00:10:33] Ben: Yeah, exactly. And I'll tell you, AngularJS, and I know it's been end of life for like five years and it's no longer receiving security updates, man, they got so many things right.

[00:10:47] Ben: It is just a joy to work with. And I work with AngularJS and under the hood, I use less CSS. It's just like, you know, legacy, legacy tech all the way down. And, I don't know. I just, it, I still, I still smile using it. It, there's so many things that it makes easy. It definitely missed some really big, you know, Things that, that it got wrong, but like it never really had a router.

[00:11:13] Ben: so all the routing is very hacked together, but man, it was, it just felt really groundbreaking. And, and it's today I use it and granted I'm on an Apple M1 Mac, so my computer is just fast, but it is blazing fast. anyway, so that's just, I feel, I feel so happy

[00:11:33] Adam: Well, I mean, I'm glad it's working out for you. And I certainly am not here to yuck your yum, but I think from a, the perspective of realism, like if we took the Apollo software and ran it on today's hardware, it would also be pretty darn fast, right? You're talking about just like, take, let's take some old tech and run it on a high end

[00:11:54] Ben: no, no, but I mean, you know, I wasn't always on an, on an M1 Mac and AngularJS has always been it's, it's, it was very robust, but limited in scope and to be clear, it's not, it doesn't compete with the functionality of, of modern, you know, it doesn't have say like, a bundle splitting and it doesn't really have scope CSS so that you can, you can kind of hack it in and it doesn't have.

[00:12:20] Ben: A really robust router in any way whatsoever. And it doesn't have a server side rendering. It doesn't have a bunch of things, but it made a lot of stuff. It, it, it, AngularJS feels like a perfect example of the 80 20 rule where they don't get a hundred percent of the things right, but the things that they get right made most of application development very easy.

[00:12:43] Adam: I wanted to ask you like why you chose AngularJS versus, you know, why that over, say, why not just like image maps, right? Static HTML files with links in them that go, okay, when you click here, it goes there.

[00:12:55] Ben: so the AngularJS version was a rewrite of a jQuery based version. and when we moved to AngularJS, basically we, there were like three developers at the company. And

[00:13:08] Adam: I'm sorry. Maybe I misunderstood. I thought you were taking something that was way more dynamic and you were generating for the purposes of these exports, an AngularJS app. Is that not what's going on?

[00:13:20] Ben: so it is, but I can't, I can't switch technologies because it uses all the same build system. So we've been using AngularJS since the dawn of time at work. And, and so I'm, I just have to continue on with that because I'm reusing

[00:13:33] Adam: yeah, then that, yeah, that's a little different.

[00:13:36] Ben: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But, I don't know. It's great. You know, I've been, I've been playing around with other frameworks.

[00:13:41] Ben: AlpineJS has been sort of where I've been focusing mostly. And, there's, there's actually quite a lot of overlap between AngularJS and AlpineJS in terms of syntax and kind of general philosophies. but here, I mean, just another kind of hat tip to AngularJS. So speaking of compliance, You can enable on any web application, a content security policy and the content security policy tells the browser what types of code is allowed to execute and like whether or not a, a nonce or an end once has to be included with script tags or, or, or link tags or object tags, basically coming up with ways to prevent a malicious actor from being able to arbitrarily execute code.

[00:14:25] Ben: So one of the things that will often get disabled is something called eval. Which is the ability to just evaluate JavaScript, like write dynamic JavaScript code and then evaluate it. and AlpineJS doesn't really have a good content security policy story because that's literally what they're doing under the hood is they're just taking your strings of expressions and they're evaluating them more or less.

[00:14:47] Ben: They're using function constructors, but it's the same philosophy. And AngularJS, again, hat tip to just all the things that they got right. They are able to take the same type of code and execute it in a, in a safe way because they're, they built a lexer and a parser and an abstract, syntax tree evaluator into the library itself.

[00:15:12] Ben: So they're actually parsing the tokens in your JavaScript expression into a, into this And then they're executing the definition against your code. So it, it, it complies with the content security policy while still doing really amazing stuff. And I don't know, I'm just like, I'm just giddy, you know, it's, it's like, like, well done, you know, golf clap, AngularJS well done. So

[00:15:37] Tim: You were gone too soon.

[00:15:39] Ben: yeah. And, and

[00:15:41] Adam: you'll have to explain for us the, like, the naming, there's AngularJS, there's Angular,

[00:15:50] Ben: yeah,

[00:15:51] Adam: isn't there like a third thing too?

[00:15:53] Ben: well, so AngularJS. Became Angular and it was a, is a real fundamentally breaking change in the framework and then they eventually switched their rendering engine to something called Ivy that was a really big change as well, mostly transparent, but that's, that's like the, the, the kind of second big architectural change.

[00:16:15] Ben: was a third thing kind of in that nebulous naming, like, it wasn't just Angular 1, Angular 2, Angular 3, it was like, there was Angular.

[00:16:26] Ben: well, yeah, so that's, it went from AngularJS to just Angular and just Angular was, is the quote unquote, modern version of

[00:16:34] Adam: and then I, I feel like there's maybe a newer thing that is like, is sort of almost kind of going by Angular. js or AngularJS something or something like that.

[00:16:43] Ben: Oh, I don't know.

[00:16:44] Adam: it's just, I'm not in the Angular world. So I'm, I'm, this is all like thirdhand, but, it's just amusing to me. Anyway,

[00:16:52] Ben: So anyway, that's my triumph. I'm just happy to be working with the technology. Even if it's a dead technology, it still brightens

[00:16:59] Adam: almost like a pattern with you.

[00:17:02] Tim: He likes, he's got his comfort zone, right? Once he gets in it, it's hard to get him out of it.

[00:17:07] Ben: it, well, it is, it is so interesting. you know, it's kind of like the meme. Where it's like, you know, when I was a kid, we talked on the phone and we liked it just fine, you know, that kind of

[00:17:17] Adam: Yeah.

[00:17:18] Ben: like it, it does feel like I'm entering that phase of life, I guess, where I'm just like, Hey, when I wrote web apps, they were really simple, relatively speaking, and I didn't have to worry about observable streams.

[00:17:30] Ben: I didn't have to worry about runes and, and signals and all this other stuff. Like I

[00:17:36] Adam: And we liked it just fine.

[00:17:37] Ben: Yeah. And like it just worked. but I'll get there, you know, I'm exploring stuff anyway. That's me. That's my triumph. Tim, what's going on with you?

[00:17:48] Tim's Triumph

[00:17:48] Tim: I'm going for triumph as well. did I say that right? Triumph. Yeah. Okay. so we had our, we, we do regular strat planning meetings, strategic planning. So kind of the topic of, of the day for us today. but we do in the past, we would do like annual ones,

[00:18:04] Adam: Mm hmm. Mm

[00:18:05] Tim: but now that I'm in charge of doing the strat meetings, I don't, I like doing a big annual one like toward the end of the year for, for the coming up year for the account new calendar year.

[00:18:15] Tim: But I found that a lot of times when you did that, it's like you would, things you thought were really important back in, you know, October of 2023. By the time you get to second quarter of 2024, you're like, why did we put this down? Right. So what, what I do now, and we're a small team, so it's not hard to do.

[00:18:35] Tim: if you had like 15, 20 people that were trying to be in a strat meeting, it'd be, this might be impossible, but we do an annual one kind of looking forward in the prior year and then. Before the end of each quarter, we do a mini Strat to just say, all right, what do we say we're gonna do in Q1? How do we do, what are we looking forward to in Q2 or maybe even further, you know, what things do we need to like, give us more time on?

[00:19:02] Tim: What things do we just sort of like, we don't really care anymore 'cause think situations changed, changed, drop those off and, do that each quarter. So it, it doesn't take long. We did it today from, from 9:30 AM till noon. And, what, what I really enjoyed, I really enjoyed is I've, I've been using a new tool for it in the past. We kind of use like, sometimes we use like Trello boards or we use. A spreadsheet. because we use Teams, this is a Microsoft product. It's called, Viva Goals. Viva Goals. And, I first started using it. I really didn't quite get it, but today because we were doing the strat planning and I had to take everything that we said and I wrote down and took notes on and build it.

[00:19:42] Tim: It, it's a pretty cool product because you can visualize, you know, what you're doing and, and set different things on it. So, That's my, that's my triumph. It was, it was really good. I was kind of dreading doing it today, but it went really well. And, yeah, I'm super excited for the

[00:19:57] Defining Tactical vs Strategic

[00:19:57] Adam: Awesome. Yeah. And I mean, that's like you said, that's kind of why we are going to go into strategy versus technical as our topic for the day. and maybe as we, so, I mean, I'm, I'm super excited to have this discussion because, you know, as my company is growing from seven people and on up, personally, I'm feeling like a pull toward the strategic and the, the need to sort of think at a higher level.

[00:20:23] Adam: And delegate, and This is all, new territory for me, right? I have basically zero experience here to any, at any professional level at least. so I'm really interested to see where this goes. I think though, maybe a good place to start is, for the, for the unaware, let's define the difference between strategic and tactical.

[00:20:47] Adam: And for me, The, the definition of the example that comes immediately to mind is the military, right? So the, the general will say, you know, in order to reach our goals of, you know, whatever the combat goals are, win the war or whatever, we need to take that hill, right? That's the strategy, take the hill. And it doesn't concern himself or she doesn't concern herself with how are we going to take that hill, what's the best way, when should we do it, all that.

[00:21:15] Adam: It's just we need it, and we need it by this point in time. And they leave the tactics of taking the hill to the people that are going to be implementing, the process or whatever. And I really like that example, I think it paints a nice clear picture.

[00:21:30] Tim: I think strategy is sort of. Your, what is, what is your motive? So what is your motivation for doing things? And so we use a system called OKRs, which stands for Objective Key Results. So your objective is really sort of your strategy. And it's kind of, it's not, it's like you said, it's not necessarily a bunch of steps.

[00:21:51] Tim: It's not a to do list. So, We kind of did it a little bit backwards and that's okay. We had a bunch of tasks that we had and a bunch of things we wanted to accomplish, but those aren't, those are tactics, right? That they're not, they're not the objective. They're not the strategy. And it's hard to shift your mind because it's like you're in your day to day work and you're just like, you got a to do list.

[00:22:11] Tim: You're just trying to get stuff done, but that's really not strategic. So you can, you can be doing stuff, but it may or may not be aligned with what you as a company are doing. Or, or what to do, right?

[00:22:24] Tim: So to write a good objective, you need a verb, which is, you know, an action thing, and then what you're going to do, so that in order to, so the verb is your action. What you're going to do is your aspiration in order to is your meaning. So for an example, we had a bunch of like engineering R& D stuff that we needed to do.

[00:22:43] Tim: So we had a bunch of like engineering R& D stuff that we needed to do. Those are great. But the, the, the objective, so really, you don't want a whole bunch of objectives, so we only have four. the objective is build elegant software that brings joy to our customers in its usage, right? So that's really the strategy.

[00:23:01] Tim: And that honestly could never change. It's like you could keep that year after year after year and that's fine. and then another one, cause you know, we're trying to work on our, on our marketing Things is, project our image to the world to attract happy customers and engage partners. And that might sound like that's kind of frou frou, whatever.

[00:23:21] Tim: but you'll kind of see, once we talk about this a little bit more, you kind of see how that rolls into. And then we have another one about, lot of our goals are. Financially motivated, right? We have, I was trying to think, how can I write a, an, an objective for that? And one is bring value to Constellation shareholders.

[00:23:42] Tim: That's really all of our metrics. So we have metrics that we have to hit. So those all go under there. And then, then finally, one for like our,

[00:23:50] Ben: But can I, can I interject for one moment? Just because maybe a clarifying thought, especially when it comes to financial stuff, because that's such a, there's such a gravity to thinking about the finances of a company, but I think. There's a lot of financial stuff that is like neither strategic nor tactical.

[00:24:09] Ben: And that's, that's a question, not a statement. I mean, so if a company said, Hey, we want to make a lot of money this year. Like that's, that's not a strategy and it's certainly not a tactic. That's more just a hope and a dream. And, and I think there is like a category of things that just hopes and dreams that doesn't really fall under any of this stuff.

[00:24:29] Ben: Like I want to dominate the market. Like, okay,

[00:24:32] Adam: Okay,

[00:24:33] Ben: that's not really a strategy or tactic.

[00:24:36] Adam: it is and it isn't, though. I mean, okay, so you said, you know, we want to make a lot of money this year, and like, okay, first of all, every business wants to make a lot of money all of the time. That's just a given. But, if it, if this is, if what you're talking about is a deviation from the usual, we, You know, you're saying we want to make even more money this year, then there's usually a reason for that.

[00:24:55] Adam: And that is kind of the strategy, right? Like we need to put a bunch of money in the bank this year so that next year we can go on a huge hiring spree or, or, you know, whatever it is that you have in mind, right? Like what's motivating the need for this money? To me, that's what I'm thinking about as like, there's, there's some strategic objective in mind and, and,a lower level strategic waypoint there is putting money in the bank.

[00:25:19] Ben: maybe, maybe there's some area that we can discuss in terms of like level of abstraction. So you, when you talked about in your military example, someone says, Hey, I want to take the hill. That's the strategy, but I'm not too concerned about what that means. The tacticians will come up with, how do we do that? Like, at least that, that feels very scoped to some degree. But if, if you said, Hey, as a strategy, we want to make a bunch of money. And then the tactician says, okay. By doing that, we could fire all of our employees and, you know, spend the next year just pulling in revenue. Someone would say, Whoa, that's definitely not what I meant.

[00:26:00] Adam: Sure.

[00:26:01] Ben: But you're like, okay, well, that was too abstract. Like you have to give me something more strategic than just, we want to make a lot of money.

[00:26:08] Tim: the, the objective is, is meant to be somewhat sort of abstract, right? So it kind of tells you what you're doing and why you're doing it and kind of what that would mean to you once you get down to, so you say a company wants to make a lot of money or I want to give our shareholders a lot of value.

[00:26:24] Tim: Well, what does that mean? How do you measure that? Cause a lot is, is general if you're, you're a mom and pop business, you know. Earning a million dollars in net revenue, that's huge. But if you're a huge company, you know, you're a billion dollar company and adding 100, 000 or half a million to the bottom line, that's really not impressive, right?

[00:26:42] Tim: So after you have your objective, then you get into two things. You have, your key results. the key result is, is something that's measurable, right? So you say, all right, company wants to make a lot of money. Well, what does that mean in terms of. What's a lot? Well, we want to go from 5. 5 million net revenue to 6.

[00:27:06] Tim: 5 net revenue for the year. That's, that's a hundred percent measurable. No one can, no one can debate that, right? And then you say, all right, what are, what are the, they call them initiatives or projects. What are the, what are the, and this is your to do list, right? If that's what you want to do, make your shareholders money,

[00:27:26] Adam: That's the objective, right?

[00:27:28] Tim: Right, that's the objective.

[00:27:29] Tim: And the key result is you got, you know, basically increased by one million in net revenue. What are the actions now that we now take to do that? And then you so you start talking, well, we need to, you know, how many, how many sales will you have to do that year? I mean, what, are there any cost saving measures that we can do?

[00:27:45] Tim: And now once you have those checklists, And you start measuring them and assigning them. And that's really sort of the main thing. He's like, everyone, many times, everyone on the team will have some, some initiative that they're going to be doing that should help you make that key result that measurable so that you can see that this tool kind of tracks it and kind of charts it so you can see if you're ahead or behind, does that make sense?

[00:28:09] Ben: It's getting there, but I do, I do want to say that I think phrasing your particular OKR as providing value for shareholders, I think that is at least much more specific in some ways than we just want the company to make a bunch of money, because you could, in theory, do some really shady stuff to make a bunch of money, and that actually doesn't provide value to the shareholders because maybe in a month you get taken down by the, You know,

[00:28:35] Adam: And I mean, you've just described late stage capitalism.

[00:28:38] Ben: Yeah. Oh my, oh yo. Can I, sorry, just quick side. one of the shows that we watch religiously here is, John Oliver last week, tonight with John Oliver, and oh my God, it is just terrifying. There are just terrible people in every sector of every industry,

[00:28:55] Adam: Yeah.

[00:28:57] Ben: and it's really disturbing

[00:28:58] Adam: I'm just waiting. You know, it's like next week it's going to be like, how dog washing businesses are somehow evil. And I'm like, you know, if you look deep enough, it seems like he can always find evil somewhere, everywhere.

[00:29:10] Ben: It is. And I'll tell you, I, I, I always. I know that at the top, right, there's always people at the top that are, it's, it's all financial. They're just trying to squeeze

[00:29:20] Ben: more

[00:29:20] Adam: stand Ponzi schemes or something.

[00:29:22] Ben: but I still feel like there's this concept of like like malicious ineptitude, like people who are just maliciously bad at their jobs. And I don't know, I feel like we, we cut not too much slack. Slack's not the right word, but they say the word, that phrase, like, like never chalk up to.

[00:29:41] Adam: Oh, never attribute to malice that which can be adequately described by stupidity.

[00:29:45] Tim: Stupidity,

[00:29:46] Ben: feel like at some point people are, are just opting into being bad at their job. And that feels, that feels very evil in its own way. Anyway, that's a totally different

[00:29:57] Tim: Well, that's because they're getting rewarded for it, right? I mean, if the rewards is basically, the rewards of capitalism is to make a profit, and that's all you care about, then there's so many bad things you can do to do that.

[00:30:12] Adam: Yeah. I

[00:30:12] Tim: But yeah, you still get rewarded.

[00:30:14] Adam: to repeat a line from last week's show, your culture is the behaviors, your reward. If your culture is do whatever it takes to make the shareholders even more money, then the CEO is going to do whatever it takes to make the shareholders even more money, he's going to get a nice big, big fat bonus for doing it.

[00:30:30] Adam: And meanwhile, you know, 15, 000 people are on the street.

[00:30:34] Tim: I mean, one example from that John Oliver show last week about college loans was, so the companies that are, and we're doing a big tangent here, but the companies that are, processing and handling these loans, right. People will be on, on hold for like. You know, hours trying to talk to someone. And then the goal that one person who worked at the company said that you had, you had to get off a call within seven minutes. So you'd be on a call, you know, talking to someone who's like, should have been forgiven their loan, but they're, they're still getting charged. And it was like seven minutes comes, oops, they accidentally hit the

[00:31:11] Ben: Literally, they're hanging

[00:31:12] Tim: literally, literally they hang up on him

[00:31:15] Adam: I haven't seen this episode yet. It's still on my DVR, but,

[00:31:17] Ben: it's terrifying. They're all terrifying. All right. Sorry.

[00:31:20] Tactical Focus

[00:31:20] Ben: To get back to tactics and strategy though, because, you I, this is, this has been a point of confusion for me forever. And, and I, and I do feel like people will explain it to me and I sort of go like, okay, I kind of get what you're saying, but then when I'm on my own alone with my own thoughts, like I can never recall or, or divine the differences between the two.

[00:31:42] Ben: It's really hard. And I think maybe part of what makes it hard is that a lot of, I don't want to paint with a broad stroke. I was going to say a lot of companies, but I'll say maybe a lot of companies that I have worked at, Tend to operate almost predominantly in the tactical space. So like, I don't have a good muscle for differentiating between tactics and strategy because it's always been tactical.

[00:32:06] Adam: or we were just, at least at the very least, we're only exposed to the technical.

[00:32:10] Ben: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:32:11] Adam: I

[00:32:12] Tim: mean, even up in upper management, sometimes it's just so easy to get into the task list kind of idea. You gotta have, and I'm not saying I'm good at this, but it's like, I feel the struggle of stop worrying about, you know, stuff I need to do. And what's the big picture? What are we trying to achieve? What do we want to be as a company?

[00:32:33] Tim: And, and that's sort of the other reason why we shifted to these quarterly meetings is because it re homes you. On to, all right, one of our final objectives is encourage personal growth of our employees so that they can find fulfillment in their work, right? So I mean, that's a good goal. I think everyone can agree with that, right?

[00:32:50] Tim: But what does that look like for, and it's, it's different for every employee. So having that and measuring that is, is important to me as well. they, they sound trite, but it's like, as long as you, because a lot of times you get these tasks that people are like, you got to get this done and then you get it done and nothing really changes. You're like, well, why, what, what was the point of that? and that may, that can be a kind of a code smell or, or a tactic smell to say you're not in line with your, with your real objective, you know, for the company.

[00:33:26] Ben: Well, and to that end, it seems like you can run into situations and maybe this is a code smell, but it seems like you can run into situations where strategies are in conflict because you could take this, encourage personal growth of employees, And want to send a bunch of people to a conference as an example, and then someone can turn around and say, yeah, but we have a huge deadline in two weeks.

[00:33:49] Ben: We can't afford to send a whole bunch of people away for four days because we have to provide all this value to our shareholders. So it's hard. I probably, I assume to, to find, you know, which is the right, which is the right OKR to be upholding in a particular moment. I mean, I assume the answer is always the financial one, but

[00:34:10] Tim: typically. And that's, and that's the other thing. We try to include as many people as possible into these. Now it's super easy for us because we're a small team, but when I was on a bigger, you know, We had really a lot of people in the room kind of building these up, particularly like the finance people, cause they would push us back and say, all right, what's that going to cost?

[00:34:31] Tim: Can we really afford that? That's great. You know, you want everyone to get. ASP. net certification, but how much does that cost and can we afford that this year? Do we change the goal of, you know, six employees this year? Then you budget for that and then six employees next year and that, that, and that also makes it more measurable.

[00:34:49] Tim: Like, okay, we're, we're getting there. We're getting more and more people trained or certified or going to conferences or whatever. and then having your, you know, your project manager is like, well, I can't have, you know, five people on my team out. So how do we adjust that? So, and, and that's the big thing I believe in that.

[00:35:08] Tim: So once you kind of set the, the objective, the strategy, your different strategies, and honestly, all the different strategies kind of roll up into bringing value to the shareholders for us, they all roll up to that. you, I tend to let the individuals who are doing the, the, the individual initiatives or tasks to decide how do we get there, right?

[00:35:32] Tim: Because I, you know, I might have a idea how we get there, but it's, if you come up with it yourself, if you as an individual contributor say, all right, yeah, here's, here's the five things I need to do this year to get there, or the two things I need to do this quarter. And you agree to that and you're like, okay, and I can do it by this time and I can do it this many times or whatever.

[00:35:52] Tim: you agree to that. Well, you don't feel like someone from the top told you, here's what you're doing and you do it. You came up with yourself, the team agreed on it and you've committed yourself. But that's the biggest, the last big thing is having accountability. You're like, all right, you said you're going to do it.

[00:36:09] Tim: You're going to do it by this time. Let's see if we, you know, get it done. You know, sometimes it's like you have to extend deadlines and everything and that's fine, but at least you as an individual contributor, don't feel like you're just being told what to do by people who have no idea what it takes to get it done.

[00:36:27] Ben: Do you think

[00:36:29] Tactics and Strategy Recursion

[00:36:29] Ben: that there is, in some ways, a recursive nature to strategy and tactics and, and just as a thought experiment here, let's say strategy is we want to increase the revenue of the company. And one of the tactics could be, is there some way we could push competitors out of this market? But then that kind of is, becomes its own strategy.

[00:36:55] Ben: Let's push competitors out of the market. How, how do we do that? Well, now we have to come up for tactics on how to do that. And it feels like maybe there's this,

[00:37:05] Adam: You're not wrong. So going back to the military metaphor, right? You've got the, the person at the very top deciding, okay, we need to win this, this war. We need to beat these people. How do we do that? There's

[00:37:14] Tim: For freedom

[00:37:15] Adam: there's a layer, there's a layer down from that. And they say, okay, well, we needed to take these six hills or whatever, right?

[00:37:23] Adam: That's how we're going to dominate the battlefield or whatever. And, and so they, they communicate that down and it becomes like, that's why there's like a chain, a chain of command, right? So then there's the, yeah. you know, the kind of, I'm sorry, I don't know all the military terms, right? You know, you've got your.

[00:37:38] Tim: we need Carol here.

[00:37:38] Adam: Put, yeah, platoon sergeant or whatever, right? You've got like different groups and they get smaller and smaller as you break them down. And, you know, like the peop your direct reports, you know, you are helping decide what the tactics are that they're going to do, but then sort of within your own little bubble, you have your own, okay, this is our goal.

[00:37:58] Adam: And so we decide on a strategy and tactics for doing that. And it may be that you're in the middle. And so that there's smaller bubbles below you, and that becomes sort of a recursive process, like you were saying.

[00:38:09] Tim: Yeah, definitely. And the tool that I learned today, you can, so you can have, so I have like top level key objectives. There's only four of them, but you can, as you decide, you know what? This, there's a sub key objective that's kind of under it a lot, and they call them alignments. It aligns with this one. So it kind of nests, you could have nesting objectives underneath each one and each one of those.

[00:38:31] Tim: Other objectives have their own key results that you can measure in your own initiatives, basically your to do list for that. So yeah, it definitely

[00:38:40] Adam: It's like, if you're, if you're, if you, if you think of the operation of your business as like a continuously running conference, these alignments sound like the tracks, right? So you've got these, these four different, what tracks or whatever going on at the time, and there's always something going on in each one of them, right?

[00:38:58] Tim: Yeah. And that's your front, your, your front end track, but it's all these different topics, right? And you've got your, your SQL track and there's all these different topics.

[00:39:06] Ben: so complicated. Yeah.

[00:39:13] Adam: it's not.

[00:39:14] Strategy as a North Star

[00:39:14] Adam: Please feel free to tell me it's garbage, but I like the idea of thinking of strategies as a North Star, right? So like, I want to crystallize the objective and the objective. The, what is the right word?

[00:39:33] Adam: The, like the, kind of like build a framework for how to make decisions without requiring me to answer a thousand questions, right?

[00:39:42] Adam: There's a thing that you, want to do, you know, whether that is, so say like the, the OKR is to reduce rework, right? So like get things done and make sure they're done right the first time. And that way we can continue taking on more and more objectives instead of coming back and reworking the same things.

[00:39:59] Tim: probably a broader one would be, you know, to rework would kind of be the,

[00:40:03] Adam: Well, I'm just thinking like a layer in the middle here, not from a C level down, but just like, you know, just to kind of make a good metaphor that's easy to think about here. If the objective is to reduce rework, you know, for my team, you know, like the North Star, as I'm trying to think of it, is like, we want to try to get it done right the first time.

[00:40:25] Adam: We want aim for 0 percent rework and whatever. And then, you know, me as the manager, right? I just go, okay, that's, that's the goal for, for this week. That's our, or for this quarter, we're trying to get to zero rework. and hopefully the team goes, okay, well, in order to accomplish that goal, we need, better tests.

[00:40:45] Adam: We need to be more diligent about code reviews and, you know, whatever five things that they feel are important to reach that goal. The point of the exercise of coming up with that strategy of reducing rework, because, and the way I'm thinking about it, like this strategy of reducing rework is at my level of like middle management, trying to implement a larger strategy that my company needs from me, right?

[00:41:11] Adam: Like they need us to be more efficient so that we can get more work done or whatever. And so my, my layer is I'm I'm trying to implement a tactic of reducing rework, but I implement that tactic by creating a strategy for the people below me, right?

[00:41:25] Tim: Well, I mean, really your strategy should sort of be more top level company wide, right? So you could come up with something about quality and efficiency being the strategy, right? And then reduce rework would be one of the, you would do. And then you, then how would you measure that?

[00:41:43] Tim: That's really, that's, that tends to be for me, that'd be the hardest thing is. So how do you measure rework?

[00:41:48] Adam: Yeah, it's a good question. I don't have a good answer for it. The, does this go back to like the smart goals thing? They have to be specific, measurable, attainable.

[00:41:57] Tim: It's a, it's a lot, it's closely aligned with

[00:41:59] Adam: they dovetail nicely.

[00:42:01] Measuring Outcomes

[00:42:01] Tim: Yeah. So once you come up with a good, how do we measure that? And, and that's why I do it quarterly. Like sometimes you come up with a measurement, you like realize, you know, that's a crap measurement. People have learned to game this and, we need to change that measurement so that it's more reflective of the reality.

[00:42:17] Tim: They're like, Oh yeah, we, we have zero rework. Well, that's because you closed all the tickets. You didn't do anything. So yeah, you have zero rework when you did nothing. So

[00:42:27] Tim: that

[00:42:28] Adam: can't rework if there was no work in the first

[00:42:29] Tim: Exactly. It's not really quality and it's not very efficient because they just put another ticket in for the same thing.

[00:42:36] Tim: So yeah, that coming up with that measure, with that measurement is, is, is the main, is kind of hard, important.

[00:42:43] Adam: I like how you said it's important to break it down and do it more often than once a year. I think that intuitively makes sense to me. Something else you said was you try to have as many people at the strategy meetings as possible. Do you, and I'm sorry for being selfish here, but you know, again, I'm coming from a seven person company.

[00:43:01] Adam: I don't know if you mentioned, if I've mentioned this, but I work on the legacy platform. that's becoming my thing. you know. As a seven person company, and we have a very wide range of hats that we wear between the seven of us. Do you think it's important for all seven of us to be there or should it be like, you know,

[00:43:17] Tim: We had seven today. Seven's not a bad

[00:43:20] Adam: but that's

[00:43:20] Adam: a,

[00:43:20] Tim: as, we've had as many

[00:43:22] Ben: But you work in a, in an international company

[00:43:24] Adam: right, that's seven out of. 10, 000, not

[00:43:28] Tim: Right. But none of them care. It's like, none of them care about what we're doing. It's like, yeah.

[00:43:32] Adam: That I feel like there's this weird line, right? Like on one hand, I feel like three, maybe four of us would be a really good discussion and be able to think and talk at a high level. And I don't want to, I don't want to hurt feelings and make people feel left out. But on the other side of that same coin, it's like, is it really a good use of everybody's time?

[00:43:54] Adam: Should we do a full company shutdown in order to do a half day strategy planning meeting?

[00:44:01] Tim: I, I, I mean, I, from personal experience, I, I've seen that it is important. And the biggest thing is what I said earlier is when you've got people that you're working with who, who don't understand what the strategy is and feel like, You know, this is just being forced on them. They're going to push back hard as can be.

[00:44:19] Tim: But if they've, even if they didn't get their way, they had their say, or they did have, you know, they did have their say and it's, there's things on there that they know that they put on them because it's assigned to them. It's a, it's like a point of pride of, you know, I, I know I'm not just a, a worker here, I'm, I'm building a company together with these other

[00:44:38] Adam: Yeah. Giving them the sense of ownership. I

[00:44:41] Tim: and depending how complex, I mean, you Your system is and how much you got going on. Sometimes we, we would do not with my current team, but by another team, we had a bigger ones. We would, you know, get a, Airbnb at a nice house and, you know, someplace out in the country and just do it over the weekend, right?

[00:44:58] Tim: Just have a nice weekend retreat, go have dinner afterward. It's been a few, you know,

[00:45:03] Adam: just read that scaling people book, and she was very pro off sites.

[00:45:10] Tim: Yeah. Get, get off site, you know, do it, maybe do it on a, you know,

[00:45:13] Adam: I don't want to

[00:45:14] Adam: work on the weekend though. My weekends are my time. It,

[00:45:18] Tim: if you can afford it to a full company shutdown. I mean,

[00:45:21] Ambiguity

[00:45:21] Ben: Let me, let me ask a question. Something you said, I think in there made me think about another kind of a litmus test or code smell, which is this concept of ambiguity. If, if a strategy is too ambiguous, meaning that you could say, this is strategy XYZ. And you say that to two different people and they could in theory go off in wildly different directions.

[00:45:48] Ben: Like, is that a, is that an indication that strategy wasn't either one isn't a strategy or two just isn't well defined or isn't specific enough?

[00:45:58] Tim: I would say it's, it's, it's a strategy is not well defined. You might have good intentions with, with keeping it a bit vague. the good thing is, is if you have enough of those initiatives underneath the measurables, that are very specific. A smart person's going to know, I mean, number one, they should be getting those done, right?

[00:46:17] Tim: So if they're not getting those done and they're doing other stuff, they're like, oh, I, you know, I want to achieve this strategies, but I, I don't want to do any of these things I was told to do. I'm going to, or I actually told, you know, contributed that I think needs to be done. I'm going to do something else.

[00:46:30] Tim: Well, then there's a problem, right? You know, like, why are you, you haven't hit these measurables on these five things that you said you were going to do, and now you're doing something else. You know, do we need to update our strategy session or, you know, what's the, what's the thought on that? So,

[00:46:46] Ben: Yeah. Well, to that end, I have definitely been in meetings where I have, I don't want to say like weaponized, really poor strategy concepts, but I've definitely been in meetings where I say things to the effect of, well, if you squint hard What we're doing actually does roll up the strategy because the strategy was so broad and open to interpretation, it really doesn't put any constraints on us.

[00:47:12] Ben: You know, as long as we can connect nine dots that say, yeah, actually this'll, you know, add value

[00:47:18] Tim: but let me ask you this, were you part of the group of people that were there to help define that strategy and define what makes it up? So there you go. I mean, that's, that's, you, you know, if had you been, you would have understood it well enough and to say, you know what guys, I see what you're saying here, but we maybe need to add a word here or two to the strategy and then add these initiatives and measurables in here so that.

[00:47:41] Tim: People like me don't game the system and you, but you weren't in there. So they missed out.

[00:47:50] Ben: This is, having nothing to do with strategy and tactics, but I've been listening to a number of, interviews around the whole Apple and all the EU laws and the fact that they were breaking progressive web apps and whatnot. And, this lawyer used the, I think it was a lawyer, used this term malicious compliance.

[00:48:07] Adam: oh yeah,

[00:48:08] Ben: Which I

[00:48:08] Adam: subreddit for that.

[00:48:09] Ben: oh, I said, I had never heard of this before, but for the, for listeners, this, this, this idea that you're, being almost as evil as you possibly can, but within the confines of what you were told to do.

[00:48:22] Tim: You're doing exactly what, exactly what they asked for, but it's like, it's not what they wanted.

[00:48:26] Ben: exactly. So I feel like that's, that's just what I outlined is how can I weaponize their terrible wording of something to, to bend it to my will,

[00:48:35] Tim: And I want to kind of reiterate or clarify. It's like, we have the luxury of being a small team. We can pretty much have everyone. I think we had one customer service person that wasn't in on it today. but yeah, you at least need like the major people in your company and then time to time, you know, rotate in other people that normally maybe wouldn't be on it and what you're going to find is there's, there's two types of people, there's people that kind of get really excited about being a part of the process and there's some people who just like, I don't care, just tell me what to do.

[00:49:04] Tim: And the, I don't care, just tell me what to do people, you know, if, is there happy that way? If that's, that's not like apathy, cause they're checked out. But it was just, there's some people that legitimately like, you know, I, we had one of our coders on today. He was, he was on the call. He didn't speak unless I asked him a question.

[00:49:18] Tim: That's fine. That's, I know his personality. He's like, I don't care about what our marketing strategy is. I don't care. Then you got some people who just kind of want to know what everything's going on. They, they'd like to, you know, I like to know, like to, like give their two cents worth. Those people are, can be helpful on those calls.

[00:49:34] Tim: Even if maybe not necessarily, they're going to be driving a huge portion of the strategy.

[00:49:39] Strategy Cadence

[00:49:39] Ben: How, so you said you want to do more than, than once a year. How often, what do you think is the sweet spot?

[00:49:45] Tim: I mean, I think it's gonna be different for every company, but I think for us, because we're a small team. And, and I, I don't, people can't tell the future, right? They, you know, things change last year's, you know, things that happened last year are not happening this year. So it's like, I do it, I do it every quarter.

[00:50:06] Adam: I think

[00:50:06] Tim: you know, every, every

[00:50:07] Adam: the company, the more inertia it has. Right. So you're gonna, you're gonna, be more nimble when you're smaller and things are going to change faster and you'd be, More able to respond to market pressures and whatever.

[00:50:20] Tim: Yeah.

[00:50:21] Tim: Even a bigger company we would do if, if we were on target, right. Cause at the end of the day, it's like. It's all about, you know, making the money. So if we're on target, things are going pretty good. It's like, we're going to hit our goals. We might just do one, but if it's like, you know what, we're kind of slipping here, it's like, we're doesn't look like we're going to hit our goals.

[00:50:38] Tim: We need to have a, a, a second strat. So like six months from the first, from the first one, like maybe a, a midsummer one, then go down to Disney world and rent a house down there.

[00:50:49] Ben: Woo woo.

[00:50:49] How Meetings Should Go

[00:50:49] Tim: We, we did one that was like four days long down in Orlando and it was, it was good, we had to, you know, Things were, were not looking good so we had to shift it around and we did.

[00:51:00] Tim: So it's going to be different per company and what your current situation is. But it's, it's hard. It's hard to get out of that mindset. But what I did today, I was like, I was dreading, I was laying in bed. I'm like, Oh, I really don't want to do this. But you know, I'm the one in charge here. I need to, need to set a good example.

[00:51:19] Tim: And then we got, once we got into it, I'm like, wow, this is really great. I'm really, really enjoying this. So just getting out of your own way, your own inertia sometimes helps. And asking questions, you know, about the people, like, not, not just the, what do you want to do? It's like, what's the meaning of all this? What's the, you know, if we do create a really good, you know, software, quality software that our users are, you know, enjoy working with, what does that mean to you? What does that, what's that look like? So it's a lot of questions that kind of seem kind of open ended and, and maybe a little bit touchy feely, but that's okay.

[00:51:56] Tim: There's a lot of times you're getting people to look at things from a different lens that they don't normally do when they're just. Roll it out of bed and pop it on the keyboard.

[00:52:04] Adam: to that, to that effect. So let's say that Adam, let's say they closed their company down for a day and they all meet in Philadelphia and they get a conference room at the local. Four Seasons,

[00:52:14] Ben: four Seasons, right?

[00:52:16] Adam: Lawn Care. I

[00:52:23] Tim: Thanks, Rudy.

[00:52:24] Ben: does, does it, does it, would it be unreasonable to say, okay, everybody take half an hour quiet time and write down everything that you think, like, all your hopes and dreams about this company? Like what, what are all the things, like do you do a brainstorming kind of a session or is it like. Everybody gets in the room and then Steve outlines his strategy.

[00:52:46] Tim: So in an in person one or even a remote one, you typically will have a board with some post it notes, right? And so we're right at the top of it. You know, you know, what is the meaning of the company? You know, what, what's, you know, some sort of big idea. And

[00:53:01] Tim: then to

[00:53:01] Adam: Star. Are

[00:53:03] Tim: the North Star for the, take five minutes and just, everyone, as fast as you can, just write as many post it notes as you can.

[00:53:09] Tim: Don't, don't think about it too much. Just, just brainstorm it as hard as you can. Just put it in, just stick them up on the board, right? As fast as possible. And what you find is you sort of have like this kind of heat map that kind of builds up. You find, you know, Many similar overlapping ideas. And so you take those off and you start sticking them together on this board.

[00:53:27] Tim: And you say, Oh, look over here, we're saying, you know, that, these issues are causing friction or, you know, this means, you know, we're really good at this and whatever. So you start building that up and you sort of build it and then you kind of find the outliers that tend to be maybe ones that people really weren't thinking it through, but that's okay.

[00:53:43] Tim: There's no judgment. So yeah, that's, I wouldn't say like five minutes, just everyone's sitting in silence. You kind of want to encourage motion. And energy. And so having it physical where you're just frantically scribbling

[00:53:55] Ben: elbows. Trying to get up to the

[00:53:59] Adam: things that you're writing down, are you aiming for like adjectives? Like are you trying to give examples of ideas? Like should, is reliable a good, sticky note? Mm

[00:54:10] Tim: Right. Well, it, it can be, it can at least be a topic starter. Like, so once you get up to your start saying, okay, someone said, you know, had a very descriptive thing about what reliability meant and then someone just has reliable and you say, all right, who, you know, someone just wrote a reliable really talk more about what that means.

[00:54:29] Tim: And then they pitch in what they're thinking when they wrote that. It's so, it's, it's sort of a conversation starter for that person. They've said it, so obviously it means something to them, but they just weren't able to articulate it on a post it note.

[00:54:41] Adam: Sure.

[00:54:41] Ben: I think it'd be really interesting one day, and this would require more preparation, but to have like a strategy or tactic game where someone's like, you know, throws out a thing and you're like, is that a strategy or is that a tactic? Like AlumniQ wants to have 10 percent more in person alumni events next year.

[00:55:03] Ben: Is that a strategy or is that a tactic? Or like AlumniQ wants to reduce the amount of prep time it takes for an in person. Event, like strategy or tactic? I don't know. I can't answer either of those just so we're, just so we're clear. I got no idea what I'm talking about, but that would be kind of a fun thing.

[00:55:21] Ben: I think.

[00:55:22] Social Dynamics

[00:55:22] Tim: What, what other thing that I've seen work really well? We didn't do it this time around, but I will next quarter, is because we're a, a bunch of Constellation Software, a bunch of, you know, thousands of sister companies, a lot of times. We will get a person from another company, We have a sister company called Travis Software.

[00:55:42] Tim: Their general manager, she will, she loves doing it. She's really good at it. She'll come and sort of be the moderator, which is really good because particularly when you have like positions of power where you have, you know, it's your boss and you have an idea that's really burning you that you want to talk about, but you don't want your boss up there going, Hey guys, what are we thinking?

[00:56:01] Tim: And that was unfortunately me today. I was like, you know, what are we thinking? And feedback wasn't as forthcoming as when. I had an outside person be the moderator. And so the moderator, you know, they don't have a dog in the fight. They

[00:56:14] Adam: you're in the room, you feel like it would be different? Oh,

[00:56:20] Tim: it's, it's different when you're, you're talking truth to power. Some people just don't have that ability. so when you're talking truth to someone, you're like, I don't even know this lady. I know she works at some other company, but you know, whatever. and then the moderator also can kind of. Their own perspective, looking at it.

[00:56:36] Tim: A lot of times we get so insular in our own company. And it's like, this is the problem. This is the problem. They can sort of sometimes point out. It's like, you guys are saying this is the problem, but it sounds to me like, like this over here that you wrote down that one person wrote down. That's really the key problem.

[00:56:49] Tim: And everybody's like, Oh. Oh yeah, I didn't see that. So, and there may be, I don't know if there's like companies that, that, have like OKR coaches or moderators, but we've had several, several good ones. I'm sure there's gotta

[00:57:03] Adam: For sure.

[00:57:05] Tim: So I would recommend that as well, if possible to have a neutral third party sort of run the meeting.

[00:57:11] Ben: I know.

[00:57:12] Adam: You know, this is making me want to go back and re read Scaling People. So Scaling People was a, it's a, it's a straight press book. Claire Hughes Johnson was the author. We talked about it briefly on the show a couple of weeks ago. I really enjoyed reading it, but at the same, like, even in the intro of the book, she says, like, This is not written to be something that you're going to read from cover to cover and put it down and never read it again and, and be a better person for it.

[00:57:38] Adam: It's kind of like you read it so that you know what's in it. And then you're going to put it on the shelf and you're going to reference it all the time, right? Oh, there was a chapter on running strategy meetings. So now I feel like I need to, I listened to the audio book, which was a great way for me to get through it.

[00:57:52] Adam: But now I feel like I need to get a physical copy of it. So that I can just flip through and find that.

[00:57:59] Tim: Yeah, so I mean that's, I think that's probably pretty much all the advice I have on, on that. I just wanted to get it, get it out and appreciate you guys let me talk about it while it's still fresh in my head from the day.

[00:58:08] Adam: I'm just very, very educational. Maybe Tim, maybe, we'll hire you to be our, our

[00:58:15] Tim: Come out to Philly.

[00:58:16] Tim: Yeah.

[00:58:17] Adam: we'll do a virtual who knows, but, since you've been through it before,

[00:58:20] Tim: Yeah, I've never moderated one, but it's like, I do enjoy doing, I do enjoy being a part of them. Once I get over my initial reluctance of talking to people, I switch into a different mode.

[00:58:29] Adam: cool, cool, cool.

[00:58:30] Patreon

[00:58:30] Adam: All right. Well, then this episode of working code was brought to you by that hill. We need it. listeners like you, if you're enjoying the show and you want to make sure that we can keep putting more of whatever this is out into the universe, then you should consider supporting us on Patreon.

[00:58:43] Adam: Our patrons cover our recording, editing, and transcription costs. That's a mouthful, as it always is. And we couldn't do this every week without them. Special thanks to our top patrons, Monte and Giancarlo. You guys rock.

[00:58:54] Thanks for Listening!

[00:58:54] Adam: I want to throw in a plug for our Discord. It has continued to to grow. It has continued to be my favorite place to hang out online.

[00:59:01] Adam: Awesome. People talking about everything from cats to AI to the new Beetlejuice movie to tech stuff. and it is just like, it's the best community I've ever been a part of and I love you guys and I want that to continue to grow. And if you're interested in being a part of that, you can go to workingcode.dev/discord and that'll get you all set up.

[00:59:22] Tim: Find your tribe.

[00:59:23] Adam: Dang right. So that's gonna do it for us this week. We'll catch you next week. And until then.

[00:59:27] Tim: Remember, your heart matters. I don't need to moderate that.

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