It’s been said a CEO is responsible for only 3 things:
1. Make sure you don’t run out of money
2. Communicate the company vision
3. Recruit the best team
I mostly agree. One area I’ve been working on recently is how to communicate our vision in the most effective way.
I regularly speak to our company vision with monthly/quarterly/yearly vision presentations, discussions, and one-on-ones. A few months ago though, we closed a round of funding. During a many-month-long fundraising process, you learn a ton. I wanted to get as much of that knowledge over to our team but I didn’t think the best way would be to tell our team what we learned by simply giving our latest company presentation.
Our team has seen our company pitch. They’ve heard it from me many times. And repetition works to a degree. But I wondered if there was an even more effective way to communicate everything we learned.
So we tried an experiment. Instead of just hearing me pitch, we added a step by turning the pitch over to our team. I first shared our latest company presentation and what we learned. Then, every member of our team prepared a 5-minute presentation followed by a Q/A feedback session.
One of the best ways to learn is to learn by doing. Or learn as if you had to teach. When you know you have to do, a healthy amount of pressure sets in. You want to do well. In the context of a pitch, you want to communicate well and that bit of pressure puts something at stake for you to learn even better.
By adding a Q/A feedback session at the end, you also have the chance to reflect on what you said. That feedback connects more deeply with you because it’s based on how you told the story, not someone else. At the same time, seeing other pitches and feedback sessions helps everyone else watching. It’s an efficient form of repetition. And since the pitch is the same, you can better understand something someone said that sounded good or bad.
After doing this, I would 100 percent do it again.
Many of our teammates said at first they felt nervous about pitching in front of everyone. But after, they felt how helpful the process was. It wasn’t just having to do the pitch but the preparation of it, listening to other people pitch, and hearing the feedback that made everything connect on a deeper level. And another thing our teammates said was how much they loved hearing the passion for Unsplash from the people they work alongside every day. There was one pitch that even made a few of us tear up.
I learned something new from everyone. Our teammates told the Unsplash story in their way, and said things that formed new connections for all of us. Many times, I found myself scribbling notes as fast as I could because someone said something better than I ever could.
We’re a team of 17, so having everyone pitch worked for us but may not be feasible for every company. But there could be some flavour of this that works at the scale of many companies.
The important thing is not in replicating the exact structure but in designing a vision communication system that’s effective. Like many things, learning by listening works to a degree but the best form of understanding comes from doing.