April 27, 2020 § Leave a comment
As we step back and review the last 60 days of Covid and the last 30-45 day of sheltering in place (yes, it’s only been those number of days), many people have been thrust into crisis leadership.
Uniquely, during this crisis event, we’ve had to lead remotely and deliver such leadership on Zoom, Slack, Email, or even social media.
As I reflect deeply on what’s been working, what isn’t working, and what to never forget for the next leadership crisis, I began writing down my personal “Best Of’s” as I seek to memorialize and pattern match the leadership lessons I/we are all learning once again.
Always pass on what you have learned. (Yoda)
Learn the past, watch the present, create the future (Jess Conrad)
My Top 12 Crisis Leadership Lessons:
#1 Safety First: Both Physical and Mental. Closer to the Heart. Fear and fear of the unknown is one of the most powerful human emotions. Leaders must first address physical and mental safety the best they possibly can by addressing the unknown and communicating what is being done for physical safety and communicating “what is known”, “what remains unknown”, and “when we are likely to know more” to begin to address and acknowledge mental safety.
And those that hold high placesGeddy Lee (Rush)
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart
#2 Relationships Second. I’ve written about this before. Transparency is Required especially in times of crisis. Silence and “hiding the ball” breeds more fear. Transparency establishes and reinforces Trust. Relationships require Trust. During crisis events, we find ourselves in simultaneous states of being required to both Give and Receive. In order to do either, I’m arguing a relationship must first be established or if already established, reinforced and relied upon. Lead your relationship with transparency. Trust will follow.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you careTheodore Roosevelt
#3 Lead With Why. Once safety is addressed, and relationships are established or re-established, now it’s time to lean in and engage everyone. Lead with Why. During fear cycles, we all hear a lot of fear based questions that start with “What are you Doing!?” Instead, lead with ‘Why We Are Doing This”.
#4 Authenticity and Vulnerability Required. Being Authentic Requires Being Vulnerable. Being Vulnerable starts with explaining “Why”, saying “I Don’t Know” followed by “What Do You Think?”. “Why” is all about each other’s reasoning and seeking shared understandings on why decisions were made. Vulnerability is the ultimate Leadership Strength. It identifies the gap trying to be filled and encourages others to help/engage to fill the gap. It’s a super powerful to say “I/We Don’t Know” And “Here’s How We Are Thinking About It” and “How We Believe We’ll Figure This Out and When”. If you let people in, you can build a Relationship of (see #2 – Transparency and Trust)
A great example of a recent communication incorporating authenticity and vulnerability was recently published by Carta’s CEO Henry Ward with regards to layoffs the company recently announced.
#5 Find New Ways To Communicate. I’m struck by the multiple great leaders and communicators who have expressed the new lessons they are learning on Zoom communications and their surprise quality and intensity of communications remotely (over video). These leaders believed there communications would be much worse and harder. They are realizing in many cases Zoom (or Teams, or Meet, or other) is a better, more focused medium. I encourage us to continue to explore “Why” this is possible? We’ve learned these lessons in the “age of TV” and the power of the visual and verbal connection that “one at a time seeing and talking” to masses of people provides with only a screen trying to connect everyone. Great “movies” can be powerful mediums as well for the same reasons. Thinking about how to communicate differently and with all the resources you have is the lesson here. While leading on Zoom, I’ve found the need to be even more observant, to “read the room/screen” for body language or raised hands. I’ve learned to use the Chat sidebar as an advantage. To ensure all participants (or as many as possible or are comfortable) to engage. It requires an understanding of the audience, the medium you are communicating through and the strengths weaknesses of that medium.
#6 Build a Knowledge Center – A Data Center. Crowdsource the Best. In every crisis, a small set of regularly reported news and data feeds emerge. Whether it’s Elad Gil or Tomas Pueyo or 1point3acres or the Crowdsourced Public List of Complete Information, learn this lesson and establish it deeply for your next leadership routine (crisis or not). The point being that “Data and Facts Win” and “The Best Ideas Win”. Don’t just communicate “What You Know”, “What You Don’t Know”, and “When You Expect to Know” as a leader (#1 Safety) , write it down and publish it in an easily accessible, publicly shareable place (the web, public Google Doc, internal Company Wiki). Keep collecting the data as it comes in to this location. Keep sharing it. Ask everyone to comment, share what they know, and add to it. The power of a trusted data/knowledge center and the power crowdsourced engagement is the lesson here.
#7 Drive Decisions Based on the Data. Let the Knowledge/Data Center drive your decisions. Sometimes you need to act without all the required data using a leadership point of view or even your leadership opinion based on the data you have. That’s ok too. But the great news about documenting your decisions and assumptions based on what data/opinions you do have, is that you can test the assumptions/opinions as the events unfold, collect more data, and then course correct as required. This circular loop of Assumptions>Data>Decisions>Course Correct
#8 Understand that Misinformation is Rampant during Crisis Events. It’s either naive/ignorant or worse purposefully exploited to drive Fear. Fear drives bad decisions. See points #6 and #1.
#9 Engage to Win. Ask for help from everyone. Especially your family, friends, employees, investors. “What Do You Think?”, “How Can I Help?”, and “How Can You Help” are 3 very powerful questions in times of crisis.
#10 Availability>Communication>Conversation>Engagement>Trust Open doors lead to conversation. Conversation leads to Engagement. Engagement done the right way (Transparently, Authentically, and Leading with Why) establishes Trust. We’ve proven we can even do this remotely and over Zoom. We are building new muscle here.
#11 Empathy, Dignity, Integrity. I’ve found myself using Doug Leone’s (Sequoia) quote that I heard from a recent Sequoia leadership session. Reminds me so much of my personal years with Bill Campbell and the same lessons of “It’s the People” and “People will never forget how you treat them or how you made them feel”.
Be As Generous As You Can With the Constraints That You HaveDoug Leone – Sequoia
#12 There Are No Clear Playbooks during a Crisis but Plays Must Be Called. Leadership is required. Leadership requires actions/decisions. Take actions based on either data or clear points of view (opinion). # 5 and #6 on the list above. Focus on “What You/Your Team Can Control” and explicitly “What You Can’t Control”.
“And if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”Neil Peart (Rush)
- Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear. “As fast as you possibly can with the data you have”
- Develop clear IF/THEN Contingency/Action Plans with clear steps (Oxygen mask first, life vest 2nd, brace for impact 3rd, then find the Exit)
- One Size Does Not Fit All. The same ideas don’t work for everyone. Your particular situation/position could be safer or more dangerous than others situations/positions. Don’t make the fatal mistake of making your safer position more dangerous by “Doing What Everyone Else is Doing”. Don’t make your dangerous position more dangerous by not moving quickly to a more safe position by sitting still and hoping the danger passes.
The above bullets and more were from a presentation I gave to dozens of CFO’s on Zoom in multiple sessions over the last 30 days that I embedded here for easier access.
Today’s Blog post and “Best Of” list was developed as I woke up a few days ago trying to encapsulate the lessons we are learning during this crisis. I’ve routinely collected “Best Ofs” over 30+ yrs in Silicon Valley and over 3+ similar macro-economic crisis cycles and dozens of micro-crisis cycles where I sat in various Leadership positions. Clearly, I’ve been also taking the opportunity during these WFH weeks to listen to my “Best Of” background music (Rush) and the song lyrics influence may have contributed.
Many of my colleagues and current and former teammates, friends and family who are reading this were with me during these events and I encourage each of you to comment, add your own “Best Of” that I missed, and to certainly engage so collectively we can….
“Transmit Our Knowledge to those that Follow….Greater than it was Transmitted to Us”(modified from Phi Delta Theta motto; also adapted as “Pay It Forward”)
April 4, 2020 § Leave a comment
A Zoom preso I created and moderated to several groups over the last 7 days. Time to share it more broadly
June 30, 2018 § 1 Comment
As I depart Mozilla in 2018, I arrive at yet another inflection point in Mozilla’s history.
Mozilla is an incredible success story. From $0 in revenue and cash 15 years ago to $500M in both revenue and assets in the latest published annual report(s). From Mitchell’s Vision and Manifesto in the early 2000’s to the launch of Firefox 1.0 in November, 2004, Firefox and everything Mozilla stands for has made an impact on the world.
We “Took Back the Web” in 2005 with only a few thousand square feet of space and now have multiple international Mozilla offices with over 1,100 employed Mozillians and thousands of additional open source contributors.
It’s been a privilege to have played a part in scaling Mozilla from this 18 person startup to the multi-national, top brand organization we are today. We made an impact on the industry and we continue to be a powerful voice for the web, the technology industry, and operating as a developer community.
Mozilla is one of those rare special places where you simultaneously seek to change the world and, by doing so, Mozilla changes you.
Mozilla taught me the true meaning of “Open” and how to lead powerfully with both Trust and Transparency. I’ve done my very best to coach/teach other Mozillians these key learning’s and to continuously design these key principles into Mozilla’s “internal operating systems”.
There are too many friends and teammates and Mozillians worldwide to thank who won’t see me as often in the offices but who I’ll still be hanging out with on the web and social media sites.
In the end, the only thing that matters is we connected with each other, learned from each other, and we made a difference. We learned to trust each other by operating transparently and in turn we learned how a small army of awesome Mozillians could leverage and compete with tech giants.
There are so too many stories and so many memories with so many people. The best I can do to convey my experience is to offer a sampling of my “Best Of” in the form of what everyone loves these days “Videos on the Web”!
In no particular order and with 100% certainty I’ve missed some important “moments in time”, I offer you my take on “Mozilla’s Best of Vdieos” along with some historical and important blogposts from Mozilla leaders in an attempt to capture and share Mozilla’s amazing history over the last 10+ yrs.
MOZILLA’s BEST OF (Greatest Hits)
History of Mozilla
Chris Beard’s Mozilla Firefox Brand Manifesto: We Answer To No One But You!:
Quick Mozilla Firefox Videos:
I AM A MOZILLIAN!
ARE YOU A MOZILLIAN?
THE WEB WE WANT: An Open Letter
Seniors React to Firefox Data Privacy
FIREFOX FLICKS: (2012)
WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?
Johnathan Nightingale on Firefox (2013)
BONUS CUT: Making Espresso at Mozilla:
Creating the Firefox Monument: 2014
New Firefox Quantum: (2017)
Mitchell Baker’s Blog:
Denelle Dixon: Online Privacy
Harvey Anderson: Health of the Web:
OTHER KEY LINKS
Annual Report – State of Mozilla 2016:https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/foundation/annualreport/2016/
IRL: Internet in Real Life Podcast:
May 1, 2018 § Leave a comment
“Our Vision Controls Our Perception. Our Perception Becomes Our Reality”
“There’s More Than One Right Answer”
“There’s Far More Right With the World Than What’s Wrong With It”
“Extraordinary Visions Release Passion”
“I Saw An Angel In The Stone and Carved To Set It Free” – MichelAngelo
Dewitt Jones is great. A great storyteller with a great message and great photos!
p.s. – Don’t forget to bring your “juice camera”!
April 22, 2018 § Leave a comment
When you are 92 and you have life experiences like Brother David Steindl-Rast, I always listen.
A simple and wonderful message on a Sunday.
* “It is not happiness that makes us grateful…….it’s gratefulness that makes you happy”
* Stop, Look, Listen, GO!
If you liked that 2007 video, he updated it in 2017.
Same message but worth watching again!
March 30, 2018 § Leave a comment
In this post, the focus is on Trust, Transparency, Leadership, Storytelling, and how all these concepts interlink:
Trust and Permission
“We seek out people who tell us stories that resonate, we listen to those stories, and we engage with those people or businesses that delight or reassure or surprise in a positive way. And all of those behaviors are the acts of people, not machines. We embrace the humanity in those around us, particularly as the rest of the world appears to become less human and more cold.“
“Management is almost diametrically opposed to leadership”
Leadership, though, is a whole other game. Leadership puts the leader on the line. No manual, no rule book, no überleader to point the finger at when things go wrong. If you ask someone for the rule book on how to lead, you’re secretly wishing to be a manager.
Leaders are vulnerable, not controlling, and they are racing to the top, taking us to a new place, not to the place of cheap, fast, compliant safety.”
“After trust is earned and your work is seen, only a fraction of it is magical enough to be worth spreading. Again, this magic is the work of the human artist, not the corporate machine. We’re no longer interested in average stuff for average people.”
“the people you seek to lead, the people who are helping to define the next thing and the interesting frontier, these people want your humanity..”
This was all taken from the following: I thought
March 9, 2018 § Leave a comment
For anyone wondering what Mozilla has been like over the years, this video explains a ton. Very similar companies. Very similar cultures.
For anyone inside of Mozilla, this video will resonate strongly.
January 28, 2014 § 4 Comments
Listen to Laura Thomson @lxt, Sr Web Engineering Mgr, describe Mozilla’s “MVP” Minimum Viable Bureaucracy. We do this not only in Engineering but everywhere inside Mozilla (especially Finance and Operations).
Best of Quotes from this Minimum Viable Bureaucracy talk:
The basis of any self-organizing system = TRUST
Awesome communication processes require practice
Every project should have a URL
Let subject matter experts emerge (module owner or Benevolent Dictator For Life)
A 1 person = 2 day marathon Prototype + Momentum gets people motivated and makes the PATH clear
Iterate toward greatness
Ruthless murder scope creep “Not in This Iteration”. NO! ….. is a complete sentence.
There is no such thing as a structureless organization (there is somebody at the end of the day organizing “stuff”)
Knowing how to work hard is a skill some people have never learned (especially if they are incredibly smart and have intellectually cruised through life)
In this talk, you’ll hear Laura reference several other current and former thought leaders at Mozilla.
This talk appeared at OSCON 2013 and the slide deck has garnered some attention, but the talk was not recorded, so as per requests, Laura re-delivers it on Air Mozilla as a brownbag.
For more of Laura: http://lanyrd.com/profile/lxt/ < you’ll find all her slide decks here.
Other talks referenced by Laura: John O’Duinn’s “We Are All Remoties” > http://oduinn.com/blog/2012/04/04/we-are-all-remoties/
John Lilly’s Preso on Mozilla and Managing Chaos http://www.slideshare.net/johnolilly/stanford-presentation-on-mozilla-presentation?type=powerpoint
August 25, 2013 § 1 Comment
Wins and Losses – they are a dime a dozen
Nobody can judge effort
Effort is between YOU and YOU!
NOW…you have to show that you are a different creature than you were 5 minutes ago….
It means you are pissed off for greatness
Because if you aren’t pissed off for greatness
Then that means you are ok with being mediocre
SO, LET’S DO WHAT WE DO!