Borrowed, Learned, & Thought (or BL&T) is a weekly newsletter sent on Mondays. In every edition, I share weekly themes and progress in running an agency business/team and doing my best to live a good life. Published posts do not include all details shared via email to subscribers. Subscribe here.
"What kind of goal is the act of going on a journey? Suppose you are going on a journey to Egypt. Would you try to arrive at the Great Pyramid of Giza as efficiently and quickly as possible, and then head straight back home by the shortest route? One would not call that a “journey.” You should be on a journey the moment you step outside your home, and all the moments on the way to your destination should be a journey. Of course, there might be circumstances that prevent you from making it to the pyramid, but that does not mean you didn’t go on a journey."
From "The Courage to Be Disliked" by Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga [Book]
Last week, I had one of those out-of-body moments while reviewing a project our Strategy team was working on, realizing how far we've come since the team's inception back in March. As an aside, I currently oversee the Strategy team in addition to the leads of our Client Services, Design, and Software Engineering teams.
We formed the Strategy team because we saw an opportunity to widen the scope of our Solutions Engineering team and better integrate them beyond the technical aspects of our work. Solutions Architects became Strategists.
When we kicked off the Strategy team, it felt a bit like driving home on a foggy night. I knew where we were headed and had an idea of how to get there, but the path was still hazy at times. We had to resist the urge to move fast — instead, we've kept focus, taken our time, and committed to every turn together.
While I knew the destination, I learned early on that I could be better about making it clear to the Strategists. One of the first activities we did together to create clarity was brainstorming the Strategy team's current/future roles and responsibilities across our projects. Following that session, my goal was for every initiative to add to and bring us closer to that vision. With several new projects kicking off in the last couple of months, it's cool to see that many of our ideas from that session are now in play.
Of the recent activity, there are a few notable initiatives that I've been excited to see the Strategy team get involved in:
Ecommerce Website Audits: After wrapping up a website audit project in April (with a CRO Strategist, Designer, Design Director, and Strategist on board), we saw that these projects would be great for our Strategy team to own. The bet was that tighter ownership would improve results and create efficiencies over time. We presented our second Strategy team-led website audit today! We've also experimented with a lighter courtesy audit for use in Business Development.
Website Strategy Presentation: We've used our two latest full-build projects to experiment with an evolved version of what we used to call our Website Approach presentation. Previously, this deliverable was design-centric, followed by a more technical-centric presentation called Technical Approach. This process added several weeks to our projects and sometimes created more confusion than it did clarity.
Our Website Strategy Presentation consolidates these steps into one deliverable that the team works on collaboratively at the start of the project. The Strategy team has been critical here, working as a bridge between our Design and Software Engineering teams.
Website Requirements: In last week's newsletter, I wrote about how we're evolving our website requirements process. The Strategy team will continue to play an integral role here. We've been getting them more involved in the Business Development process, so they are helping create requirements pre-SOW with the client. If the project signs, they have the extra context to help shape the Website Strategy presentation and later work with Software Engineers to create JIRA tickets for development. We're continuing to experiment with how this plays out, but I count Strategists playing this role as a win in and of itself.
I started doing daily stand-ups with the Strategy team in July, which has proven to be an invaluable use of time and a simple way to keep us connected.
We kick off another website audit on Thursday and are in full swing on two website build projects. I am enjoying the momentum. That is what it's all about for me, making progress with every step. The truth is that the path is always a bit hazy —what matters is that we know where we're going, work as a team to get there, and most of all, have fun along the way. Shout out to Strategists James and Jordan for their collaboration, flexibility, and enthusiasm thus far!
More from last week: Integrating URL Crawls Pre-SOW
Where am I rushing an important initiative? How might I embrace the haziness of the road ahead?