Tips for moving at the speed of business

My name is Darren Herman and I’m the VP of Content Services at Mozilla. My team at Mozilla not only partners with many different internal organizations but we also increasingly rely on outside partners. I want to make sure we are equipped for working with clients and partners so I sent this note to my team this morning. I hope you can learn something from it. When not on Medium, I can be found at http://www.darrenherman.com and @dherman76.

Every so often, my former boss used to send an email out to the company which outlined his expectations for working at the speed of business. The first few times I received the email, I thought it was completely pointless because I thought everyone already worked effectively and efficiently. Boy was I wrong.

While the expectations below are mine, they are out of respect for all members of our team and every single partner (inside and out) that we work with. What I don’t want here is a debate of expectations. What I do want is for everyone to learn to follow them — even if it’s not the style that you are accustomed to. I promise they will become natural over time and will set us up as being a solid partner.

Before we begin, lets simply answer the question: Why do we want to be a solid partner?

In life, pretty much everything comes down to relationships. Love it or hate it, relationships matter. It’s not necessarily the quantity of relationships that count, but rather the quality.

  • Trying to get a last minute ticket to the Toronto Maple Leafs game? Relationships count.
  • Trying to get your child into preschool? Relationships count.
  • Trying to get your app promoted in the iOS App Store? Relationships count.
  • Calling your barber for a last second haircut? Relationships count.

If our technology is as good as everyone else, then we need our relationships to help us stand out. Relationships with each other, our partners, our colleagues, the community, etc.

With all of the above said, here is what I expect within this team if we are going to move at the speed of business:

  1. Please read and respond to your emails within 24 hours. Simple. If the email is sitting in your inbox, please respond to it. No one on our team should wait more than 24 hours for an email response. My personal general room of thumb is that all emails get answered the same day- I do not go to sleep without a cleared inbox. I realize that this is a bit OCD and you might need a tiny bit longer.
  2. Manage Expectations. If something is going to take a bit longer time than expected, or something is coming out different than expected, please manage expectations. These are two simple examples but are illustrative of things that could happen on this team. Manage our expectations by letting us know ahead of time — even if it’s negative news.
  3. Deadlines are powerful and build trust. Every piece of output should have a deadline set to it — which helps #2 above. Do not miss deadlines — if you do, manage the expectations of the team waiting for it. Chances are, the people waiting for the output are only one constituency waiting… there are probably other downstream effects as well. If you continue to hit deadlines (great!), then you will build trust with your colleagues.
  4. Every meeting should have an agenda and a start/stop time. Very straight forward — but circulate an agenda in the calendar invite (and/or other document) ahead of the meeting so people can prepare. Show up on time and if the meeting is running over the allotted time, the chairperson of the meeting should promptly end the meeting (its not rude) OR ask to extend the time if everyone can continue participating.
  5. If a meeting is on your calendar, attend it. Missing calendared meetings is rude and disrespectful. Attend meetings and communicate ahead of time if you have to modify/cancel your meeting.
  6. No one should wonder where you are. If you aren’t coming into the office until 11am one day, communicate that with others in the office ahead of time. Why? People rely on you and often might look for you and wonder when you are coming in. It’s not about flexibility of coming in when you want, but rather #2 above — manage the expectations of your team about when they should expect you to show up.
  7. Be respectful of others. All too often, we take respect for granted. We’re all guilty of it — we’re all on the same team fighting similar battles. Please be respectful of your peers.
  8. Leave nothing open-ended. Assign specific doers and task owners. Use specific calls-to-actions in order to get things done. Accountability is key.

Hopefully this is helpful. It’s not a perfect list but will get us 75% better if we start to follow this. I’m as guilty as anyone else for not following this sometimes… but lets try to.

Thank you.