A (no) team manifesto

Javier Gomez
Aug 21, 2015 · 5 min read

I believe in the power of teams.

I believe in the power of motivation.

If we manage to put together a great and motivated team we can go far.

This was the starting point for our Team Manifesto for SMARTplayds. I started by doing some research in Internet trying to find best practices, read some books and articles … and I tried to combine it all with my own ideas and past experiences.

I wanted to create a strong team culture from day 1 (or better, from day 0). What I wanted to achieve was to give identity to our project and to our team.

I faced some challenges: first of all, we were not really a Team on the “classical” definition of the term. We are so young and scarce that we mainly have collaborators, partners, suppliers, friends and family who help us getting started and validate our idea. We are still in the process of searching for the perfect product-market fit that will make SMARTplayds a reality with a sound business model. We need to do it with the minimum spend, as lean as possible.

But of course we are dreaming big and we believe on what we are doing (even if we change direction so often!) so we are going to need sooner or later a bigger team.

We need to attract talent, skilled individuals that will fit in quickly and be aligned with our mission and values. Organizations with a strong culture go further and manage crisis better (I don’t have scientific proof or statistics but I believe so).

I have a friend, an experienced and clever CTO who had a different vision than his CEO about the way and stages the team had to grow. He was pressured by his CEO to get more resources to the team. Funds were not an issue as they just raised capital from a Venture Capital. He argued with him as he wanted to get resources gradually so that he was able to “immerse” them into the startup, into the team, into the processes. They needed to be fully aligned and working as a team to deliver more. In this case, less was more in terms of production.

By the way, this same friend of mine, used to cook Paella in the office for his co-workers and subordinates from time to time. They all ate together and drank some beers … I made laugh of him but I am sure his tactics are a great way to bring the team together and see each other more than a simple co-workers and more like a family.

Observing communication and behaviour in this kind of activities, you’ll get a lot of information that is normally not-visible in a work day, you might discover who helps everyone and facilitates, who is lazier and needs a push to cooperate, who is shy, who leads… you can get big surprises!

In a recent course that I followed recently about innovation I met a business coach, Mel Loizou. She We did a lot of practical exercises and luckily for me she was on the same table and we were part of the same team. We cached up the following week and had a coffee together. I explained what I wanted to achieve and she has supported me along the way.

We decided to prepare a brief questionnaire with some questions. like “What has been your proudest moment ever?” or “What would a company need to do for you to feel proud to work for them?” or “What do you want SMARTplayds to be known for?

I was curious to see the reaction of the “team”. Almost all of us work from different locations (even in different continents and time zones, with different nationalities and completely different cultures. Would they find the questions too personal? Would they bother to reply? Would they take it seriously and reply sincerely?

I found out after some days ... I had to insist a little to get more responses but most of the people participated and submitted the answers. Some didn’t and felt puzzled about the questions being to personal or “requiring too much thinking”. That kind of feedback was enriching too.

I collected the answers and then shared them with Mel. We discussed about the common themes and I put together the first draft of the document.

And this is it:

He aha te mea nui o te ao? Maku e ki atu, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in this world? I say to you, it is people, it is

people, it is people.

MAORI WHAKATAUIKI (PROVERB)

#MEET THE SMARTPLAYERS

#We are proud

Proud of being part of an amazing team. Proud to try hard. Proud to help each other. Proud of our achievements. Proud to learn from our mistakes.

#We are super heroes

We all dreamed with Superman, Batman or Catwoman. We wished we could fly or cut metals with our eyes. We might lack those powers but we want to make this world a better place, fighting villains and making good with our own super powers.

#We enjoy life

We like to live our lives in full, with passion. Families, friends and time for ourselves are important. If not working, we like to play football, tennis, cycle, climb, meditate or even fly drones.

#We admire creativity, innovation and socially responsible entities

From Startups to big corporations, we stand for companies that are socially responsible, who are disruptive, who have innovation in their DNA, who cultivate creativity and participation among their employees.

#We love diversity, teamwork and openness

Our team has almost as many members as nationalities. We embrace people with open hearts, open minds and open wills, willing to take on challenges with confidence and commitment.

#Quality of service really matters to us

We stand for our customers. Going the extra­mile when needed. They are part of our team.

This should not be the end of the process but at the contrary, the starting point, a guide, reference or check-list for reflecting how good or bad we are doing against our initial thoughts. We should discuss about it, live by and amend it as required.

Have you done a similar thing for your team? How was the process? What did you learn? What will you do differently next time? How was your main reference/influence?

I’ll love to hear from you, your thoughts, ideas, suggestions and critics.

Javier Gomez

Written by

Entrepreneur. @Smartplayds cofounder Passionate about Marketing, Technology and Innovation.

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