If you want to stay in business, put your team and your community first

February 28, 2022


Here are the three uncomfortable truths of great teams:

Uncomfortable Truth #1: Conflict makes people uncomfortable. It also makes teams great.

A senior leader I worked with in a past life made two profound statements that forever altered our working relationship. First, they argued that reading was largely a waste of time. They also made the bold assertion that conflict could never be positive.

Every study on effective teams disagrees on both accounts.

I valued the skillset they brought, I valued the heuristics they used to come to conclusions, and I valued the perspectives they offered on our future. They collided heavily with my own. And that collision, at times, produced brilliant outcomes. We produced our top revenue and return, executed a growth and an acquisition strategy, and added new capabilities to the organization.

None of this happened in spite of the conflict. It all happened because of the conflict.

It was not the conflict that was the problem. It was the framing afterward that somehow those interactions were negative that led to our eventual demise as teammates.

Great teams recognize the value of conflict – They look for it and they dig in on it to make the sum of the parts better than they could ever be on their own.

Uncomfortable Truth #2: Diversity is the single most important driver of success. Unfortunately, companies rarely benefit from diversity.

In fact, one disheartening HBR study showed that most diversity programs fail.

Humans are biologically fearful of difference. Difference, though, brings important perspectives and mental models that make teams stronger and their results better.

But that diversity has to be facilitated, supported, and encouraged.

Uncomfortable Truth #3: A shared purpose is difficult to keep alive and relevant. It’s also critical that you do.

Sympli Works is an arm of Symplicity Designs – an organizational design firm that exists to make the world a better place, one organization at a time, focused in Atlantic Canada.

When I share that with others, I’m met with two diametrically opposed reactions. Some are energized. Others roll their eyes.

How do we do this? We help businesses out of crisis and help them systematically scale. What’s that really mean? It means we sort all the problems, challenges, and opportunities in the order they need to be solved and then we help those areas of the business perform faster, better, with less resources.

In the case of Sympli Works, we’re focusing on small and micro business owners.

Far too often, small business owners get stuck. They hit a barrier – sales, scaling, HR, marketing, to name a few – and have no idea where to turn. It’s isolating and overwhelming. It can also be damaging to a business’s present and future.

But who really gets it? Business owners need business owners in their corner to help them navigate some of the most common constraints.

Sympli Works provides online growth opportunities for entrepreneurs that takes high-level methodologies and breaks it into more digestible pieces to help drive organizations to the other side of the biggest problems they’re facing today.

That is what we do better than anyone else, but it is not why we get out of bed in the morning.

It’s who we serve with that capability that gets us out of bed.

It’s the long-lasting impact of those engagements – the business and the lives that have been changed for the better that really motivate our team.

It is that purpose that has led us to give back more than $4m in cash, low-bono, and pro-bono services to the region. It’s that we refuse to give up on micro businesses led by great people when it would be far more lucrative to abandon them in favour of higher paydays.

But that purpose is difficult to keep front and centre.

It takes effort.

But it matters. And more than you think.