The Best Time to Plant a Tree…

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.”

We hope that in 20 years from now, we can look back and say that we planted the trees.

Over the past number of years of running a business, one of the hardest things we’ve grappled with is how we can create a place that allows our team to flourish to their fullest capacity, which in turn allows the business to achieve the level of success we believe it can.

The first step in tackling this issue is to have an awareness and understanding that personal and corporate goals don’t always align.  That’s easy to understand because it just makes sense.  Humans don’t always share their deepest goals and desires with those of their place of employment – no big secret here.

Secondly, and most important, is to realize that it’s incumbent on the business and not the employees, to provide a place for flourishment.  We are here to serve the team and then let the team dictate our success as a business.  Below are a few of the ways that we’ve tried to accomplish this:

Excitement Around Growth   

At 360 we place a massive emphasis on building and talking about our foundational ideals so that we continue to grow the way we want.  We want to create something that is morally sound, an exciting place to be and an entity that provides value to our clients and profit to our stakeholders.

We’ve borrowed many ideas over the years but one of the ones which stands out for us is the Jeff Bezos Day 1 philosophy.  The Day 1 philosophy which Amazon employs has several key items, but notably speaks to: True Customer Obsession, High Velocity Decision Making, Resisting Proxies and Embracing External Trends.  These points have to some extent been integrated into the mentality we want to maintain so that we will never be content that we’ve built something sustainable (Day 2), but rather will always place an emphasis on growing and challenging ourselves to be better.

In continuing to focus on growth for the business in both actions and language, we give a platform for all members of our organization to do and act the same.

Clear Direction

Mission/Vision statements can be overdone or under-utilized and there is a fine line between the two opposites.  Furthermore, business goals are useless without follow-through and results.  At 360 we believe that outlining our long-range, audacious goals allow us to more easily define our short-term plans which gives our team the ability to grow within this large framework.  We have a 100-year business model but also 1, 3, and 5-year goals that fit within that.  Also, our mission at 360 is to “Make Growth Simple”.  This is a short, yet powerful thought which fits in the Day 1 mindset (customer obsession) and allows everyone in our organization to focus their efforts with respect to their individual roles.  It may sound idealistic, but we want to get to the point where everyone in our organization could tell you exactly where we are heading, how we are going to get there AND how their role will impact that direction.

Structure and Freedom to Make Decisions

We want our team to flourish at everything they do.  We’ve recently worked hard at trying to give clarity to our team around the organizational structure (or lack thereof!) by instituting what we call the Pod System.  We have 4 pods in our business – Liability Management, Abandonment, Environmental, and Corporate.  Each of the pods has a pod leader and each of the pods cross over with others on various projects.   It’s an idea stolen from military frameworks with small tactical groups which gives autonomy and decision making to the respective groups and allows everyone to offer thought leadership within (and across).  It is not a new idea and some of the less optimistic could just say it’s a different way of creating an org. chart.  But we feel that it’s an effective system which allows each of our business units access to one another and the ability to drive pod members forward and hold each other accountable for their actions.  We also like that it’s not the same as an org. chart, because it forces us to think differently and look at problems, communication and actions differently.  The net result is that there is a framework for team members to expand their horizons and grow to their potential.

The metaphor of planting a tree is useful in this summary because we feel that nurturing an environment where a team can grow to their fullest potential mimics that of growing a real, live thing.  Getting this piece right is, quite frankly, really difficult. Period.  It’s something we’ve found we must pour a lot of resources into, but which is the most rewarding thing in the world when you get it right (and we don’t always!).  Our goal is to forever focus on this integral piece of our business, and we think that in the end it will be one of the key drivers of our success.

Making Growth Simple,

360

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