Hey crew, so I’m a brand new scholar (but I’ve been mainlining the podcast for 6 months :),
First thing I did was crash course entrepreneurial management, which was a big selling point and where I felt like I needed to start (and boy do I wish I had that a year ago before we grew our leadership team).
I’m the CEO of a non-profit organization called UPSTREAM. We spark innovative solutions to plastic pollution through helping policymakers, businesses, community leaders and individuals shift from single-use to reuse. I’ve grown the organization from 3 employees to 10 in 5 years and from 300K to a $1.2M budget. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I really feel like an amateur after plowing through all the incredible material from Brooke and Kris.
Here’s where we’re at – I think we have nailed our vision and organizational story. We know why we exist and what we’re trying to accomplish in the world. I have established a solid track record of fundraising around this vision and we’re in good financial shape to start the year. We have a really strong reputation in our space around our thought leadership and really broad networks that we’ve cultivated and serve. This is solid ground to start from.
However, my team is not operating where it could and should be. Culturally, there are some significant disconnects between how we say we want to operate and how we actually operate in practice. There are processes gaps and lack of alignment around organizational and quarterly goals (even though they’re spelled out). We are trying to do too much and we operate more like a university (with everyone having their pet projects) than a high-functioning business. There is a perpetual sense of overwhelm and urgency, and a lot of negativity. I’ve worked for this organization for almost 10 years. I’ve been through multiple iterations with multiple people, but I’ve never experienced these kinds of lingering challenges. Some of it is Covid; some of it is growing pains; some of it is my leadership; some of it is our team dynamics, and some of it is what my individual team members bring to the job.
But after plowing through the course, I’m sadly realizing how much of the problems are because I have not set up the right systems, and I’ve let my team manage themselves and their projects instead of really creating the goals and processes for how we’re going to accomplish our mission (and disciplining the organizational work plan). We may also have some people that I need to let go (hired poorly – again, my mistake).
I’m feeling like there needs to be a complete overhaul of how we work, but I’m not sure where to start. I recognize that this may be too general a question, but I really want to know where I need to start to move this forward. To follow what I’ve learned from Brooke, I’m going to attempt to solve my own problem 🙂
I’m thinking that I should start with a values overhaul, then processes and systems (filters) and the team manual, then the customer narrative. Would you suggest a different starting point?
My second question is whether I should start by myself or involve my COO and HR consultant. Again, here I’m inclined to do some work myself, and then involve them.
I also think I’ll set up a coaching session for this week. Thanks so much for your help,