A fearless worldview

An email I sent to the whole company a month ago…

It’s been a month of fantastic conversations for me. I had some great meetings and conversations here at Logos, then hit the road and had more great conversations with people in our industry, at churches, in other businesses, at a “Code for the Kingdom” hackathon, and with Logos staff at the Tempe office.

I met people who were excited about the opportunities for the church, publishing, and their businesses and I met people who were circling the wagons in their business or personal life in fear of change and the future.

These conversations have had me thinking about the difference between an optimistic and pessimistic worldview. Or, rather, ‘work-view.’ And about what that work-view means at Logos.

While I certainly know how to be critical, in the big picture I’m optimistic: we’re an awesome team doing awesome work for awesome customers — things are only going to get better! Setbacks are annoying, but they’re just setbacks — we’re moving ahead into a brighter future. Of course we’re making mistakes — we’re doing new things we haven’t yet mastered! But we’re smart and persistent and we’re going to figure it out.

But I realize that not everyone feels this way. And things that seem positive to some people can be frightening to others.

  • I talked with someone who was uncomfortable taking advantage of the freedoms in our employee manual.
  • I talked with someone who felt that an argument over a technical point meant that I was mad at him.
  • I talked with someone who translated one of my comments on a specific project into a set of rigid rules for all future projects to ensure they’d never let me down again: I’d never again see the thing I didn’t like. I’d also never see a dozen other perfectly good things either, just to be safe…

What I found is that some people here are afraid — of making a mistake, of getting in trouble, or even of getting fired.

If that’s you, I’m sorry you feel that way. The good news is, you don’t have to be afraid.

Here at Logos, we don’t hire everyone who walks through the door. We’re very selective: we don’t just take the time to find people who can do the job, we try to find people, like you, who will grow into doing it better over time, or into an even bigger, more valuable position of responsibility. When you’re growing like we are, it’s irresponsible not to be ‘growing the bench’ of talented people who will be ready for the new challenges we will encounter.

But what about mistakes? Should you be afraid of doing the wrong thing or disagreeing with someone in leadership or spilling 20 ounces of hot tea on the white rug in my office? (It happened.)

No. There’s no reason to be afraid, because we have a culture that recognizes mistakes as a learning opportunity and a chance to improve our processes, not as a failing of individuals. (And, because all of us individuals fail, sometimes I make the mistake of reacting angrily to something. I’m working on that, and appreciate your patience with me. I can assure you, though, that it is just a temporary flare of emotion, the only consequence of which is chagrin on my part….)

If you are here, you are, by definition, someone we believe in, have invested in, and believe will be even more valuable in the future.

Stepping into that future can be scary; that’s why it’s so important to keep looking to our values: Honesty, Openness, Awesomeness, Growth, Initiative, Elegance and Shipping. If we all aspire to these, and “Endeavor to exhibit grace, and accept it” (from the last slide in our Employee Handbook), we can all have a ‘work-view worldview’ that is as optimistic and excited as mine.

And you should, because we’re facing a world of exciting opportunities to learn, grow, and make a difference!

— Bob

P.S. Bonus reading: This blog post contains an important lesson about Logos and every great company. No, not the ‘wait to get fired’… the point about how companies are schizophrenic… (This also helps explain why we try to have so few rules; that way you don’t have to break so many rules to do the right thing, which is what we want anyway.)

http://brendansterne.com/2013/07/11/do-the-right-thing-wait-to-get-fired/

P.P.S. Extra bonus reading: “Blameless PostMortems and a Just Culture” at Etsy:

http://codeascraft.com/2012/05/22/blameless-postmortems/

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