Different teams move at different paces

I drive a sports car. You drive a bus. I can get myself there quickly. You can get lots of people there slowly. You can’t make a bus handle like a sports car but you can tell people to get off the bus and find other means of transportation.

Cascading mediocracy 

Three different people have explained managing a team to me as being about being able to let go of work, to allow the team members to do that work that you would have otherwise done even knowing that that won’t do as good a job as you would have.

I don’t accept that. I don’t think managing a team should be about accepting lower standards. If that’s the mindset of managers across an organisation then the more layers of management the organisation has the greater the cascading of mediocracy. And by the time it gets down to the bottom of the organisation the only quality work happens in spite of the mindset.

So, I’m not going to expect or accept that the people I work with will do a worse job than I would have done. I’m going to expect them to do it better than me. But I’m going to have to find ways to help them with that. That’s what management should be about; making the team stronger, more efficient, more effective, helping them level up.

Structuring a digital team

Digital team matrix

I have an idea of how a digital team could be structured. It would be a matrix of Service Units and Business Units that creates an interwoven and interconnected team that is focused on collaboration to achieve the service delivery and business objectives.

The Service Units would be responsible for delivering digital services for the organisation. In this non-exhaustive list we have advertising, email and social marketing, the website and analytics, but the list would include every service that is delivered by the department. Each Service Team would manage any platforms and suppliers associated with the service and be the main point of contact for the Business Unit Managers/Teams. The Service Teams, as the experts in their areas (Gladwell’s Mavens), would make recommendations to the Business Teams about how to use their knowledge and services. They would know that they can’t achieve their objectives without working closely with the Business Teams.
The Business Units would be closely aligned with the objectives for the department, in this case online donations, stock collection, event sign-ups, membership subscription, and online retail. The Business Teams would be proactive in approaching the Service Teams to implement their plans. They know they can’t achieve their objectives without working closely with the Service Teams.
This kind of matrix framework and reliance on each other for achieving objectives would naturally foster greater collaborative working without trying to tackle the ‘silo problem’. These teams can continue to work in their silos but they can only achieve their objectives by working together. Communicating the need to be objective-led is another problem.

Building an ecommerce team: Start with generalists or specialists?

How should you go about building a new ecommerce team for an existing business?

With extra capacity required across the business in marketing, merchandising and product lifecycle management, development projects, and business processes, how do you decide on the best approach for building a lean but effective team?

Do you start with a generalist who can do a bit of all, or a specialist to take over one aspect more completely?