Earlier this year, I Slacked our team the following message:
I think many of you have felt a shift in my management style over the last year. In summary, I shouldn’t be involved in the majority of decisions like I was in the past. I also have to fight my natural inclination to give my perspective 😬. "You make the call" is something I've been saying more. Hopefully that will give you more autonomy and a better sense of what I should and shouldn’t be involved with. As our company grows and changes, the parties involved with decision making will change as well.
I also shared the idea that a 10% to 20% error rate as described in Ben Casnocha’s “10,000 Hours with Reid Hoffman: What I Learned” was part of the expected trade-off when prioritizing a fast-paced culture.
We agreed I was going to make judgment calls on a range of issues on his [Reid’s] behalf without checking with him. He told me, “In order to move fast, I expect you’ll make some foot faults. I’m okay with an error rate of 10-20% — times when I would have made a different decision in a given situation – if it means you can move fast.” I felt empowered to make decisions with this ratio in mind, and it was incredibly liberating. There’s nothing new about designating someone else to “play in” for you on certain projects or areas of work. But it rarely works in practice, because the person you deputize must always be second-guessing their authority and their decisions. "Is this really what Jason would do?” In most cases, what ends up happening is many decisions get rolled up and unfortunately, filtered by your deputy and queued for your review on some non-optimal timeline. The solution, which Reid and Ben managed to find, is the 10-20% error rate. That simple idea makes it possible for Ben to make decisions now and review later, safely aware that if he’s 80-90% sure about any decision he’s making, he’ll be in the clear.
With Wool&Prince's open positions and recent hiring, I’ve been thinking more about how we can set up new team members for success at Wool&Prince.
Currently, a new team member has an onboarding partner for training and support, who in our case is normally passing on responsibilities from a way-too-full plate. During training, decision-making is collaborative and various options are thoroughly discussed. We’re trying to share how we think about our business and make decisions while also learning from the new team member’s previous experiences.
Depending on the role, after three to six months, the new team member should be feeling empowered and confident in their ability to set priorities and make decisions. And then we can rely on the Reid Hoffman 10 to 20% error rate mentioned above to continue operating at speed and refining that decision-making muscle.
If we’re still struggling after six months to work independently, set priorities, and make decisions, we’ve either failed the new team member as a company or it’s just not the right fit, and probably won’t ever be.
We're looking for
Self-starters: Naturally motivated and ambitious with a bias toward taking action. Hierarchy is not something we want to build into our organization. We have team leads that help set priorities and facilitate collaboration, but they aren't handing out to-do lists. We like to sum up this trait with "well done is better than well said."
Life-long learners: Our business needs to evolve as interests and markets change, and that starts with team members who focus on learning new skills and personal growth. In our job posts we write: We all wear many hats, and roles shift as our company grows. You're in charge of your role. If something looks interesting to you, follow that itch, learn from the team, and create value.
Builders: We look for people who like making and building. It could be epic sand castles, crafting projects, gardening, home renovations. We’re building at Wool&Prince. Builders take pride in their work and find it immensely gratifying to see progress.
Team players: This goes beyond the "no asshole policy" you see at other organizations. Positivity, transparency, humility, and inclusivity are all contagious. We don’t have room for egos. Collaboration powers our organization.
We’ve had some frustrating delays with our knit vendor in South Korea. A miscommunication and late shipment of wool set us back a couple months, but we have a better grasp on our timing for the following products now. Hoodies, joggers, lounge shorts and the first two rows of tees will arrive by the end of August. The last two rows of henleys and tees will arrive by end of September.
The denim shirt just arrived and we can't get enough of the deep blue textured look and the wool/cotton blend.
We're loving the khaki chore jacket for the cool Pacific Northwest mornings right now.
My wife and I had our first child in March and we're having a lot of fun! Debatable how much fun Rainbow (the dog) is having.
And our team soaking in summer:
As always, shoot the team and me your comments or questions below.
And if you get this far, I'm curious what you think about our return process. We include the prepaid return label with every shipment. We're considering moving to a digital return portal (ie returns.woolandprince.com) where you can enter your order number, place your exchange order, and print a return shipping label or get a QR code for a FedEx store to scan. Happy Returns and Loop are the two technologies that we're considering.