Dogfooding: The Company & You 

Accountability Be Accountable Management Organizational leadership

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Key Point: “Dogfooding” is a matter of integrity. You likely guessed that this refers to the adage many of us have heard: “Eat your own dog food.” The following outlines Facebook’s approach on the subject:

“Dogfooding” is a common practice of most IT companies for fixing the bugs in the application they create, but Facebook goes a step beyond by using the technique to retain employees, according to a report from The Economic Times. Facebook is using this technique to engage its young employees, with most of them being in their twenties and edgy and/or impatient… James Mitchell, head of the Hyderabad office (India) says, “Dogfooding is one of the best outlets that we can provide for young, enterprising intelligent minds. It binds them to the product and the company very strongly.” He says that Dogfooding is the standard through which voice of the employees can be heard. Facebook employees hack, test, and beat up all their products before (and after) they hit the market.

As per Facebook, Google and other leading companies, it’s strategically important for employees to “dogfood” its own products. And I believe this concept applies to us personally, too. One example is that I strongly believe we personally cannot stay in the high performance zone indefinitely. In full, high-performance, we eventually become fatigued and stressed so we need to intentionally REST. Leading firms like The Energy Group, who study this process deeply, understand and teach groups how to flow from high-performance to rest, and back again. They advise everything possible to avoid prolonged time in the fatigue/stress zone. If one stays too long in this stress zone, well, unintended bad things typically happen to us.

I’ve written about the importance of personal energy management a few times over the years. Most of my readers know my team and I have been leading an intense enterprise initiative since January. It’s been relentless; The thinking, planning and execution. It’s involved many 14-hour days, weekends, travel, and the excitement/anxiety associated with high risk/return movements. So… Dogfooding… Both my team and I need to internationally REST. Take some white space, and reenergize before we step on the gas again.

Character Moves:

  1. Dogfood your company products.
  2. Dogfood your beliefs and values. Both 1 and 2 are about integrity.

Dogfooding in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Millennials all want to move a million miles an hour towards our goals, and certainly don’t live with much patience. But, even NASCAR crews have to take a pit stop and “check their tires.” If you need kibbles and bits of advice, this is a good one to chow down on.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Determine your MTP: Massive Transformative Purpose

Accountability Be Accountable Purpose Thought leadership

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Key Point: A well-defined MTP (Massive Transformative Purpose) is instrumental in building a different and more valuable kind of company. And most successful new startups these days have this defined before they even kick-start. And an MTP is not primarily about making tons of money for shareholders (although when the MTP is achieved, that’s what happens too). It’s a much bigger inspirational WHY the company exists in the first place.

This past week I met with a 24-year-old Canadian entrepreneur who just sold his first start-up to a global company for $xx millions of dollars. He knows this “take over” company will scale his MTP, and make it a world wide reality. I remember talking to him about his idea a few years ago. There were a number of more prestigious and certainly hipper things this guy could have done in the short run, including but not limited to grad school, high end consulting, big company management, etc. But, he had a massive thought about changing the lives of the elderly incontinent by taking advantage of digital sensors and the ubiquitous wifi/Internet now available to nursing homes. So, what did he do to prove out his thesis that the elderly incontinent deserved the dignity and well-being to live in clean adult diapers? (Not “sexy” at all and for many people his age, well beyond interest, focus or comprehension). Well, he and his team decided to take a minimal viable prototype to nursing homes and learn from there. The entire start-up team stayed at three different nursing homes over a 12-month period. Yup, these 20-plus year olds moved right in to those homes, often staying in sleeping bags on the floor of an unused space, literally living with residents and staff. They knew their technology would work, but to really understand the impact of their product, they immersed themselves in full observation. The result was a dramatic improvement to the prototype, and ultimately a big win for the nursing home residents and their beleaguered care givers… No more middle of the night wake up calls – less sores, infections and indignity. Purpose matters. A massive transformative purpose matters even more. It is really thinking BIG! This mindset applies to our current giant or more modest challenges; from adult diaper wetting to feeding all the hungry. 

So WHY does your company exist? What difference does it make in the world? Simon Sinek talks about the “why.” See the following from an article in Dare2: “Exponential organizations talk about the Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP). It is no longer enough just to be in the market to create profits for your stakeholders. Customers and employees are attracted to companies that aren’t purely commercial, but have a greater purpose and communicate this purpose. Zappo’s MTP is ‘Delivering Happiness.’Yeah, maybe on paper they are selling shoes, but there’s a big difference for employees who wake up every morning to sell a lace up shoe in size 8 versus an employee that wakes up to deliver happiness in size 8. MTPs also give companies a much bigger board to strategically play with. Google’s MTP is ‘Organizing the world’s information.’ The breadth of this makes projects like autonomous cars and Google Glass — products that otherwise seem really out of touch with Google’s strategy — fit perfectly because it supports their greater purpose. Even Coca-Cola has an MTP. It’s ‘Open Happiness,’not ‘We are in the market to maximize the benefits for our shareholders and be the leading distribution chain for sugary soft drinks.’ Most startups are born with an MTP. It is their guiding light. The upward bound that holds all their activities together. ” 

When in NYC last week, I heard about an MTP regarding nutritiously feeding the entire world for pennies a day based on open source thinking. A very talented software developer got tired from having to break development activities to eat. So, he quit software development and hacked a basic nutrition formula that would cost effectively provide all of us our daily needed source of nutrition and then open sourced it. It’s called Soylent! Their MTP: “We at Soylent seek to use science, technology, and business as tools to improve the quality and accessibility of nourishing food. We aim to provide complete nutrition to all while reducing the costs of its production. To accomplish this mission, we have focused on creating a line of products to provide affordable, convenient, complete nutrition that is accessible to all. When we say “all” – we really mean all. In the last three months, we have already donated more than half a million meals to food banks around the country, with the goal of donating 1 million meals this year.” Read more on their site.

Character Moves:

  1. Do you work for an organization with a clear sense of WHY and greater good, purpose? And what about an even bigger thought? A Massive Transformative Purpose? Don’t be afraid to be part of thinking BIG. Like Google’s Ray Kurzweil notes, “If you want to be a billionaire, help a billion people.” Why would one want to work for a company or organization that just wanted to make a lot of money for a bunch of rich people? Especially if it diminishes humankind rather than advancing it? Think big, be big for humankind. Now is the time.

MTPs in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Wow, good for those guys! When you hear stories of how entrepreneurs actually get up and DO, it’s always inspiring. That’s why I recently wrote this piece on a guy I admire, Gary Vaynerchuk… It’s people like this that can really fire you up, make you ask how you can better tackle your day, and think BIG, no matter what industry you’re in.

– Garrett Rubis

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Head in the Cloud

Accountability Be Accountable Collaboration Time Management

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Key Point: We can’t afford to waste time redoing work. I was reminded of this the hard way last Thursday night. The experience negatively impacted my readers, writing partner/editor, company team members, dinner guests, and me. I was very frustrated and this cascaded to my executive assistant and IT support team as well.

I write my blogs in advance of the night Garrett and I review it and schedule publication. We know it’s important to our readers to receive the blog consistently (every Tuesday and Friday like clockwork). Quite a few of our North American readers make it part of their personal routine to read it first thing the morning it’s published. So it’s important not to miss. It usually takes me 1.5 to two hours to write the draft of one blog. This past week, I wrote blog No. 2 of the week on a Tuesday flight to Toronto. After getting the draft done, I saved it on my device, an iPad Pro. I knew I had meetings all day Thursday and a dinner meeting Thursday night, resulting in a very tight timeframe for Garrett and me to review that night before scheduling publication for Friday 5:00 a.m. PST. As soon as my Thursday all-day meeting ended, I grabbed my iPad and expected to pull up my draft, add a few finishing touches, send to Garrett and head out to my dinner. Easy, peasy.

Surprise… All my company email had completely disappeared off my device. My blog, sitting in a draft folder in outlook, was inaccessible. Two hours later, after heroic efforts by my exceptional assistant and a top notch IT teammate, my email was restored. However, the event permanently wiped out my draft blog with zero recovery options. So two hours late for my dinner meeting and having to do a complete rewrite, well frankly, I lost my energy and practical window to create a new blog. Garrett, his ever creative and resourceful self, wisely chose to write an apology blog and attach a helpful article. You know the rest.

With current advanced cloud based networks like Google’s, the process of digital work is changed forever. I’m writing this blog in my Gmail account, and that is now securely stored in the Google cloud. So what happened last Thursday will not happen to me again. I will never press “save” again and store content in a folder held on servers behind a fire wall and/or on any device. With my drafts in Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, etc, my blog will always be available. All I need to do is grab ANY device, log in and my stuff is always there. There is a remote chance that the Google network could go “down,” but if that happened we’d likely be experiencing some catastrophic “world” event in which having access to my data would likely be a secondary priority.

Cloud based storage and fantastic productivity/communication platforms like Google’s G Suite results in the work experience changing for the better, forever. Accessing content from anywhere there is internet access, on any device, at any time, allows us FREEDOM and CHOICE; two huge contributors to personal happiness. And how we work is being transformed as well. Being able to video connect individuals and groups easily, having multiple people from anywhere working on a single version document, resulting in one version of truth, integrating with search, etc. etc; well the possibilities regarding reinventing work are limited only by our imagination. It is very exciting, and possibilities for 10x work improvement are literally endless.

In my new role as Chief Evangelist, my team and I have the unique opportunity to make Google’s G Suite platform available to 5,000 of the best teammates in the world. Thinking about how these superb workers are going to apply this tool set/platform almost makes me giddy with excitement. The key thing to understand is that this initiative includes superb new technology AND is also first and foremost about being able to contribute and create more effectively, individually and collectively. We will also be able to more seamlessly integrate work into the way we want to live today!! This is BIG and it is TRANSFORMATIVE! Lucky us.

Character Moves:

1. Commit to working and creating with the most modern collaboration, communication and innovation tools/platforms/systems available. In today’s work this means your digital device has platforms like Google’s G Suite and applications like Slack, WhatsApp, Linkedin, etc.

2. Recognize and embrace these modern platforms from the perspective of living with more autonomy, unleashing your creativity, connecting better with others and becoming richer in every way. And as I often say: Do it now because you’re worth it.

Clouds in the Triangle,

Lorne

P.S. if you need any help learning to use these digital tools /platforms find a 9-year-old like my grandson; they are excellent tutors and fun to hang out with too!!!

One Millennial View: As my Dad knows, I often have to push myself to “do it now.” I can be a world-class procrastinator, and sometimes try to convince myself that I’m magically “more effective” if I’m on a tight deadline (probably B.S.). Thankfully, these easily accessible applications play a huge role in my professional and personal life, and despite any challenges that 2017 might bring, it’s incredible what we have access to. What a time. There’s no excuse not to utilize them.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Transform Our World

Be Accountable

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Key Point: This blog is a little different because I’m asking for our wonderful community of readers to help our company attract game changers. Hopefully reading it will also tweak your view of the organization you work in.

Are you able to be the one and/or attract the people who just make a heck of a difference? These folks have a powerful, sustainable impact and inspire those around them. When they enter a room, you can feel the heat in the best possible way. Kinda like Justin Timberlake, they’re into always bringing “Sexy Back,” but through the intersection of knowledge, passion and a jetpack that’s always fired up.

I admire Google’s definition of a “Moonshot:” To positively impact one billion human beings. Now that’s thinking BIG! At ATB Financial we want to transform our part of the world too. We want to reimagine banking and make it really work for people. We’ll start with our own mini-moonshot aimed at four plus million people, including every Albertan. We have been Alberta’s bank for nearly 80 years. Over 5,000 team members put on their ATB name badge everyday, and fully embrace the privilege of serving Albertans in everything they do that involves finance. 

However, the sobering fact is that people need banking, but they do not necessarily need banks (including ATB Financial). But, if we think BIG and “YES” first, we genuinely believe we can reimagine banking so that it becomes an indispensable and integrated part of each of our customers’ lives. We are right in the middle, sandwiched between Canada’s world-class charter banks and a swarm of financial technology startups nibbling at our margins. And we like it. The big guys challenge us by heft, scale and scope, while the upstarts buzz over us with their ingenuity. This provides huge energy and the motivation to be more agile, inventive and resilient. We have so many strengths to build on. We have a highly engaged culture, recognized by outside experts as one the top 10 places to work in Canada. We’re a deeply experienced, fired-up, leadership team playing to win. We’ve employed a world class banking system that gives us one version of the truth, and have the highest customer advocacy scores in the industry. ATB is a crown corporation and our AA+ bond rated single shareholder has a long term view. ATB has demonstrated sustained profitability, embraces an Albertan entrepreneurial spirit, has market share leads in both retail and commercial markets, a growth and disruptive mindset and much, much more. 

At the same time, we need to add some key ingredients into our mix. That may include you or someone you know. The spice we want to add into our transformation recipe is a person who lives fully immersed in the digital world, may be a data science thought leader and/or a genius purveyor of innovation. This includes someone who wants to make a legendary contribution to ATB’s Story and already lives what we call our 10 ATBs. When you read the descriptions of both declarations, you know that’s a mirror of who you are. And you are ready to bring it and to seek heat, and to become part of our very personal moonshot here at ‪ATB. Additionally, joining the team and journey includes the courage think BIG… Be BIG… With sleeves rolled up, a renowned ability to get S#!* done, while still having a lot of fun. One more thing: You are a collaboration magnet! People just love working with you.  

If you want to kick around the possibility of becoming part of our promise to reimagine banking and execute on making a memorable, positive difference in millions of people lives, click on this link and see where it takes you… Maybe to the “moon.”

Character Moves:

  1. Please help us find these people. Connect on LinkedIn with me and/or send me something at lrubis@atb.com. Many of our readers are outside North America. We want people focused on Albertans, yet we recognize they may come from elsewhere… After all, almost everyone in this province once did too. Thank you.

Lorne Rubis 

Close the ‘Spin Room!’

Be Respectful

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Key Point: I think it’s time for almost (if not completely) full transparency in organizations. There may be some information that should be closely held, but I’m hard pressed to identify what may qualify as a legitimate “secret.” Perhaps a pending merger or acquisition in a publicly traded company? I guess an organization restructure where people’s jobs are impacted deserves confidentiality out of respect to those impacted? Even the sacred world of compensation could use more visibility. In public companies, the compensation of top executives must be disclosed. Why not for all of us internally? If it has to be kept a secret, I wonder why. 

At Google, TGIF stands for a weekly meeting with ALL 70,000 full-time Google employees. It’s hosted by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google. The meeting now happens on Thursday to accommodate the Googlers in Asia. According to Google people, it’s usually the best 45 minutes of the week. Larry and Sergey NEVER miss a meeting and using Google tools, Googlers anywhere are encouraged to ask any question on any topic. According to insiders, it is always an authentic, unvarnished, open conversation. In fact it is so transparent, ALL Google employees are considered insiders and can only trade stock in restrictive periods based on the rules applied to what constitutes inside trading. Another example of this transparency is that any engineer has access to Google source code. (Of course if someone tried to download it to an unsecured non-Google device, Google security would likely unleash some serious consequences). Being open doesn’t mean being naïve, or weak in the matter of protecting intellectual intelligence. It does mean trusting people to navigate through and sort through what’s important to them.

At the company I work for, we are really opening information up. As an example, non-execs are given an opportunity to attend our top management meetings, board committee sessions and even full board meetings. Every Monday and Tuesday we share what’s going on in the company by having our top execs available for a virtual, company wide town hall. The social platform tools are now robust enough to share information in real time and to trust people translating and interpreting the key messages. The idea of top management going into the “spin room” to manage a company wide message is becoming very old school. In fact, if one of our execs sends an email or even a video, we are often surprised by the low “open rate.” We just haven’t got time for “spin,” regardless of how well intended it may be. We want it real, open and straight up so we can make up our own minds.

This week 100 million people are likely to tune in and watch the U.S. Presidential debate. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook will give us instant, real time evaluations on the event. The pundits in the back room trying to “spin” the outcome after the debate are likely too little, too late and probably irrelevant. Millions of viewers will decide and trend the outcome. The “spin room” is losing it’s luster everywhere, and rightly so.

Character Moves:

  1. Confront old ideas and “truisms” regarding information. If information is power, why not empower everyone? The “need to know” guideline may be an outdated idea? Most of the time, we are far from having real “state secrets.” The more people know and understand context, the better can they contribute.
  1. Being open and transparent doesn’t mean all of us running around sharing our most personal matters. The last thing I want to know is the “dark web” in most people lives. Please keep that locked in your mind where it safely belongs. However, in organizational life, I deeply believe a company gets more done by sharing openly on all the initiatives. It builds trust, and treats team members with respect.

Transparency in The Triangle

Lorne

One Millennial View: I completely agree. I know my company is trying to be more transparent, and it’s helpful… If I can better understand how my actions can further the goal of another department as well, then that’s only going to help strengthen the success of the entire company as a whole. Isn’t that what we’re all ultimately trying to do? Trouble is, if we don’t communicate or inquire, we’re all just on separate islands… It’s time to build some bridges, not sink ships.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis