Here's an excerpt from a podcast where I talked about moving into a management position. You can listen to the original episode here, or scroll down further for the formatted article. Enjoy!
Becoming Managing Director recently, there's been a number of things that I've had to change about myself and in my behaviours and attitudes. Here's three key areas of change that I've recognised:
1. Delegating responsibility
The first massive change has been around delegating. Over the past four years, I really haven't delegated! When I was running Etch Sprints, I was a team of one. I was called the Lone Wolf, just kind of pretending at running a business, making a ton of mistakes, some successes, and running my first 150 design sprints. And being able to not only run the Design Sprints, but also sell the design sprints and market the design sprints. I was just living my best life!
Amongst some of my friends (including Dana, who I've been running the Go Getters podcast with) we would say that maybe I peaked a few years ago. You know, that statement has helped me move towards where I am right now and where I'm going towards.
The thing about that is I couldn't delegate. There was no one to delegate to and it all fell to me. I actually liked that because I wasn't going to let myself down and quite bizarrely, I wasn't looking forward to weekends so much. I really enjoyed my working week and I really enjoyed running design sprints, but also being an ambassador about them, talking and sharing and running workshops and running webinars - just for the joy of it.
I was in a position to execute all that knowledge that I've had through listening to people like Gary Vaynerchuk for the past 10 years, being able to emulate people that I respect and just having fun with it.
Now, moving into a managing director role: You can't do that. I've made that mistake more than five times, since I've taken the role! It's ever so easy to have those initial conversations with a client or make a decision and then to automatically say, "I'll do that". I have had to rewire myself to say, "we'll do that, and I'll introduce you to the team that's going to do that". That's been a massive change.
We're a very small team. The more that I can do, the more that I can ensure that we're going to give a client a great experience and solve their problem, but it's also about being able to trust your team and being able to hire help. I should not be doing any delivery whatsoever. That is not my role. That is not what a Managing Director does.
2. Monthly recurring revenue
As you probably know: I'm a huge fan of the Design Sprint. I read the Sprint book years ago now and it told me how to design. It told me exactly, step by step, how to solve problems, which having not had formal training, really helped me have the confidence to go ahead and start practicing.
Through that, I have found that that's actually the part of design that I like. I like starting from scratch. I like looking at the product strategy and understanding product market fit, making that first prototype design, user testing that, and then delivering it.
In a large company (without Design Sprints), you could work on something a week and then if it moves, your timeline gets extended and you're working into a second week. And then you're there for a month. It's just really hard to build momentum and to do that at pace.
Using the Design Sprint just gave me a lot of enjoyment and, and also just playing to my strengths. Make decisions and execute.
Now it's interesting to see the experiments that I'm running. As Managing Director, my problem to solve is how do I grow a sustainable business? When I say sustainable, I mean one that can run seamlessly and without stress.
With a Design Sprint, you have to find enough projects to then deliver over four weeks and then find more projects and then deliver them over four more. Growing a dependable revenue stream with that method is super hard. The only way that I could think about it was very anti Design Sprint: Monthly recurring revenue.
Monthly recurring revenue means that you make one sale and you keep working with that client. It's how most agencies work. It means that you can manage that account long-term. There's often the problem of it just going into auto pilot and then it becomes, middling value. That's just not something I wanted to do with this business.
What we've done instead is we experimented with monthly recurring revenue by selling 1 month or 3 months or 6 months, and that has started to work.
It's starting to work so well that it's actually providing further sales within the same client.
Probably the third change came about when I recognised that I've been working from home for the past two years. In that time, I've moved from Head of Design Thinking in one company, to Head of Design in another company, and then to Managing Director. I was changing roles and the whole time staying in the same environment. It was messing with my head!
I'm the biggest advocate for remote work and what I found was, I wasn't remote working. I was working from home.
I don't have a dedicated workspace at home right now. I'm in the conservatory of my house. It is absolutely not designed to be worked in for long amounts of time. Once I recognised this, I started looking for a new work space.
Right now, I'm at Eagle Labs in Southampton, a mere 12 minute bike ride from my house.
What I've found is that I really relish the buzz around me. Hearing other people doing work around me helped me focus on my work. They are running their own startups. It's a very friendly and warm place. There's a hook for my bike. There is a shower. There's beer in the fridge (or thinking juice, as my past colleagues would tell me!).
Those are the three things that have really changed, over the course of the last few months.
What's changed for you over the last few months? Let me know!