Join Ryan Barry, President at Zappi, and Patricia Montesdoeca, Chief Growth Officer at Aldor, as they dive into the work Ryan has been doing to discover what helps diverse, remote teams move fast — from problem definition to contracting to dependency mapping and more — as well as similar findings from Patricia as someone entering a business with fresh eyes.
Ryan Barry: Hello everybody, and welcome to this episode of Inside Insights Podcast, powered by Zappi. My name is Ryan and I sound like a frog because I don't feel good today, but I'm here anyway. And I'm here with my dear friend, my co-host, Patricia Montesdoeca. Patricia has some news today. She hasn't even updated her LinkedIn yet.
But Patricia, you got a new gig girlfriend, what are you doing?
Patricia Montesdoeca: I've got a new gig. I'm thrilled to announce. I mean, I had wanted to wait for the first three months 'cause you know, 30, 60, 90, you gotta make sure you do things right. But I'm working for Aldor here in Columbia. We're an international company.
We're in many, many countries, 48 to be exact. We have a very large portfolio of candy gummies and lollipops, and caramels and so it's, it's all yummy things with very low calories. And I'm the Chief Growth Officer, which means marketing, sales, exports, and innovation.
And I am really, I mean, it was hard for me because you know that I enjoyed my time at Zappi enormously and I made the personal decision to leave, to come to live with my husband. Which is a good idea sometimes, right? But I was really, yeah, I was really worried about topping the experience because we grew so much.
We had so much fun. We played hard, we worked hard. And so finding something that was going to meet that expectation was, is, was hard. But I have to say, life has been good to me once again, and I am working my buns off and having a great time.
Ryan: Oh, I love it. I'm so happy for you. We were talking for a while before we hit record and Patricia's energy on her business is infectious and I have officially churned because I roll with my friends. So I've been a long noted member of the Haribo Gummy fan club. I am going to be switching to Trolli Gummies, the official gummy of the Inside Insights Podcast.
Dude, can we get our first sponsor and you can like, send me gummies and shit in the mail.
Patricia: Absolutely. You'll get some of that.
Ryan: I want a care package and I just think it's cool. I'm gonna start introducing the podcast, the Inside Insights Podcast powered by Zappi and Trolli Gummies. Now, you know, we've made it.
This is such a cool, uh, this is such a cool thing and I'm excited to see this evolution in your career, but it's also just a great story for our community of people to have somebody like you who's been a shepherd of the consumer for so long, been an insights leader for so long, take your career into a role where you're, where you're not just responsible for the consumer, of course you are. Ultimately, you want 'em to be happy and buy all of your products, but you're in a chief growth officer role. I mean, congratulations. That's fantastic.
Patricia: The truth of the matter is, I feel like this takes every single role I've ever had, including human resources and training and sales and everything, trade marketing, everything together. Marketing, brand marketing, research strategy puts it all together and then it's.. I'm learning about confectionery, which is an incredibly complex category.
Incredibly complex, and so it's a mixture of learning and giving and I'm just, and the people here, this team is so amazing. My boss is the best, so shout out to my boss, Leonardo, and to all my team, but I'm just enjoying it. It's a growth and supposedly a woman of a certain age doesn't, doesn't get to do this, and I'm still kicking it.
So here's to all of you. I'm breaking the ceiling.
Ryan: You're breaking the glass ceiling. Fuck the glass ceiling. I love to see it. And now I have a close friend that I can commiserate with because we both get to deal with people, process, politics, technology and complex markets for a living.
Ryan: There. Isn't that fun, Patricia?
Ryan: Oh, that's good. That's good. And so, the truth is folks, We are the guests today because we want to talk to you folks about what we have learned in terms of transformation, helping diverse remote teams move fast.
And we both bring a different vantage point to this topic. And so we decided, we're just gonna talk to you about it because every one of you is changing, whether it's the technology you're using, the skills you're being asked to develop, the complexities of your market, and all these big changes, these transformations are difficult.
In many cases, they're one-way doors for your organization. And so failure is at a premium. It could cost you your job, it could cost people that, you know, it's not good, right? But then fear of failure fucks you up. And so we just figured, you know what, we're gonna talk to you about some of the stuff we've learned and we have some slightly different vantage points, and we hope it's valuable for you.
Patricia: And this idea came about, and this is important for all of you to know from the LinkedIn post Ryan had a little bit back about the learning that he's been having from these past few months. I reacted and I reached out. I said, oh my God, these are the same lessons from the last three months for me. And then the team said, podcast!
You all reacted really, really well and you had so many wonderful comments on that post. So this is, thanks to you guys.
Ryan: Yeah, exactly. It's, you know, you can test messaging, you can test ideas on social media and the engagement helps determine if it resonates. And we do that a lot with the podcast, right. To see if, if an idea is gonna work.
So I guess, why don't I just kick this off with the foundation of my little learning journey, I've bet on. And then we can just kind of riff.
So this time last year, Steve Phillips, our founder, our CEO, myself, the rest of our management team were zooming out and saying, what's our vision for the next four years? We felt like automating the world of market research, our original vision got the T-shirt. That's not what the market needs anymore. And we decided we wanted to really elevate our vision further to be the data platform that gives brands, the data that they need, to not only optimize and validate decisions, but be inspired by their data across the world.
And so we were working on that and we were talking about what does the business look like in five years? And the reason for five years is, uh, I'm gonna fuck this up, but there's a famous Bill Gates quote that people overestimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in achieve in five years.
Does that resonate? Absolutely, absolutely wise words from Bill Gates. And it's true, right? Like I think for many years, even in our own business, we were going year to year. In our heads cognitively, we knew the end game, but like, our business isn't tiny anymore, your business is huge. And so all of a sudden, how the hell is everybody else supposed to connect their annual OKRs or whatever the hell your company's metric system is to the company's mission?
And, and particularly my business isn't publicly traded, but if your business is publicly traded, you're grounded by short-termism because you answer to the street every quarter. And so it sometimes pervades the ability to do big change.
Anyways, so there we are, and we decided to fly our whole company to Bulgaria, which is a random place to go. Long story. We're in Bulgaria and it was the end of the first day. And you know, I'm a pretty reflective dude. I go up to my room and I'm sitting on the deck. Having a beer by myself. Because uh, as introverted as you folks might know me to be, I'm actually not. And I like to recharge my batteries. Sorry, as extroverted as you think I am, I'm actually not extroverted. I like to sit in silence a lot of the time.
So I'm sitting up there and I'm looking in this weird vantage point, right? I'm on the fifth story of this hotel and I'm looking out at our staff. There's 320 people and they're just vibing and they're just by the pool, by the tables, having drinks, talking, laughing, right? It's just an, and the energy was palpable. I can feel it. And I was thinking to myself, oh my gosh, in 2019 this is what Zappi felt like. And then the world fell apart and you know, nobody works in the office anymore and people live in different countries and, and I was just like, how do I capture this energy so that we can run at the pace we need to, to stay in front of our customers? And then I started to go to some of the sessions, right?
So all the sessions we had were big things that we needed to achieve to make our business better. and I'm like, ah, we got, we got too many people in one room, not enough people in another. It's not clear who's the decision maker. It's not clear who the stakeholders are versus the core team. And so I go into my room and as I normally do, I take a whiteboard pen out and I start to just randomly scribble shit. I had this concept lodged in my brain from one of my mentors who I think you've met, David Cancel.
David founded a bunch of businesses, most recently Drift. And David's business, he always had this concept of a DRI. So a directly responsible individual. And one of our values at Zappi is ownership. So you own your shit, you do what you say you're gonna do, and so on and so forth.
So I was trying to drive this concept of ownership in while observing a bunch of beautiful, diverse people converging and realizing the small team, the big team, the stakeholders, the people who needed to change were being conflated into one group. And so I sent an email to the 12 people who were leading projects that week and I said, can you please come have breakfast with me in my room tomorrow?
Which imagine they probably all were like, why the fuck is he doing this? Kind of weird, but they all did. I said to them, listen, I think we're conflating your ownership, the smallest possible group of people you need to actually get something done. The people whose opinions can help you make your idea better.
The stakeholders, whether they be your bosses or the people whose jobs need to change as a result of your transformation, and I wanna help you decouple your core team from all those other groups so that your core team can make moves and move the business forward.
Ryan: I said, I have to judge your outcomes as the president of the company based on our outputs in a year or whatever. Would you mind if for the next year or it was the next six months, we experiment together and I observe what, what you do and I meet with you and it wasn't as intentional as you'd think it was periodically. So I probably met with each of these groups 10 times over the course of six months not to judge. That will happen somewhere else.
Take my president hat off. Welcome to hat head, but to learn. They all were like, sure. So for, from October of last year through to June, I met with each of these people. Now these are all different things. Systems and technology projects, customer change management, AI driven innovation, solution development, you name it, code-based architecture, reform, whatever it was.
And what I learned was that the same shit got in everybody's way. Now we're not here talking about, uh, hit this month's number. We're not here talking about making more money out of Trolli gummies, which have been a product forever. We're here talking about transformations. The first thing I realized was that people's day jobs get in the way of transformations, right?
But I wanna unpack the learnings, but I'm gonna shut up now for a sec and I want to get your reflection on this, but I wanna unpack each of these learnings with you folks. And Patricia, as she said at the beginning, read my post and she's like, shit, I'm seeing a lot of the same stuff and the other 40,000 views I got, seem to think the same.
So, Patricia, what do you think of what I said so far?
Patricia: I am totally vibing with you. You know, one of the things that if I think about my first three months, first 90 days, right? I read a book, I recommend it to everybody if you're changing roles, even if it's from the same company, I reread it three times just to make sure I got it right and the thing that I learned from the first month meeting everybody talking, talking, talking, talking different from you that you were meeting with your, your, your teams and seeing the project management was meeting with the heads of all areas.
The first layer, the second layer, and as many of the third layers as I could. Right. I realized number one, what an amazing group of people. They're all dedicated. They're all smart, they're all professional. Some are introverts, some are extroverts, but they're all driven. They know where they wanna go. They know how they need to do it. They're all doing that. Why isn't it working? Why, why are we working harder than we've ever worked? And we don't have the juice to show for it.
So that was the first thing that smacked me in the head, right? So it's like, okay, let's figure this out. Right? They all had the same concerns. They all had the same dreams, they all had the same desires. And then I started understanding. Again, my bias is they come from a background of Zappi and Coke and Pepsi and Quaker, and Gatorade and Colgate.
I have a vocabulary like in encyclopedias in my brain, so I had to come here, start working in Spanish, and I had to, it helped me so much to be working in Spanish because I had to stop and say, okay, what does that word mean? What would it be in English? Give me other words in Spanish. And everybody had different definitions than I had and from each other.
So that's, so the marketing people had a word and the production or the operations and the finance. So I had to start equalizing. And this is a medium sized company. You shouldn't, but that's one thing. So they wanted to communicate. They had the same problems, but we had a little problem with that. And then I came with the same, the second largest problem, the same that you just mentioned, business as usual, which should be 80 to 90%, and the critically important, which should be 10 to 20%, we're getting mixed up, and if anybody goes, is gonna win.
It's BAU. Business as usual is gonna win.
Ryan: You always win.
Patricia: Right. Although everybody loves this, the extra 10 to 20%, which is sexier and racing and funner and, and more expensive and more premium and makes me wanna wake up, nobody wants to do this, but this takes up all the time. So your left brain and your right brain are kind of colliding.
Ryan: By the way, a lot of businesses try and I don't, I don't agree with this, even though we've tried it as well, to have BAU teams be separate from innovation teams. If the strategy is the same, it's a stupid idea. If you're trying to create completely new businesses, it's not because you end up handing over conflict.
Patricia: Totally. No, totally. And so I have the same like division of, of, you know, what you put in LinkedIn, and then I added in slicing the elephant thin, why did I add that in when I talked to you.
Because of the bureaucracy, because of the culture, because of the vibe, we need to attack on both ends. We need to make sure that everybody knows what North Star looks like, right? Everybody has to know where we're going, but everybody has to know what they're doing today so that we eventually get there.
All of those things that you mentioned need to know. And one of the ways to do it, believe it or not, although it sounds very unsexy, is to slice thin and to go slow so that you can be watching and you can course correct as you go. So those are the only things that I would add to your list of five, which were excellent learnings, and I don't even know which would be the most important. If you think about it. Which one do you think is the most important of your learnings?
Ryan: Well, I think let's, let's sort of talk about them all, but I think, I think let's stay with what you said for a second. I mean, if a company has a North star, true North strategy, mission, vision, whatever buzz word you wanna use, that's good.
But it's only good if everybody's work ties to it, which is hard. And particularly when a lot of companies have a lot of middle managers, that gets lost because middle managers are typically incentivized to hoard their space versus ladder to the vision. So that's a very difficult challenge.
Our CTO, second reference of Brendan. Brendan, you're never gonna listen to my podcast, but I love you dearly. He sent me this PowerPoint deck a few weeks ago, and it was basically saying that businesses actually aren't linear hierarchies. They're slime molds, you know, slime molds where there's little things inside of a mold.
Because even if you have a structured hierarchy, you're still relying on people. And people are wonderful and complex and unpredictable and irrational, and I always make this joke, I'll make it again. Business would be a lot easier if we were all algorithms, but it wouldn't be any fun. But the slime mold nature is, it's the bunch of little micro chasms and networks of people that makes things happen.
And that's why, I've said this on this podcast so many times. How many brands buy Agile technology to do insights without changing anything else? All of them have done it and it never works. 'cause people drive change. Correct. And that's why I'm not scared of technology. But yeah, let's talk about these.
So there's 12 groups, all different walks of life from architecture to a persona project, which is a customer insights project. So I'll take you through each of them and we can talk about 'em. The first is a big one. People love ideas, people love solutions, but never take the time to define the problem. Specifically define the problem.
Because Patricia and I are of a different generation. We grew up in different countries. We're friends. We've known each other for a long time, but I can't tell you how many times I've said something to Patricia and she's like, time the fuck out. What do you mean?
Because we don't all speak the same language as each other, even if we're speaking the same language, which is why Patricia's Al outdoor context is really quite interesting because everybody's speaking different variants of the same language.
I'll give you an example. In our business, we market to a specific set of brands in a specific set of industries.The best way to market to those people is to take all of our sales and marketing efforts and target specific accounts. The buzzword in B2B for that is called account-based marketing. If I ask 15 people in our sales and marketing team what sales, what account-based marketing is, I guarantee you I get at least seven different definitions, and that's okay because everybody's vantage point is different.
But taking the time for everybody to write down the problems they see, debate them, play back their understanding to each other, make sure the data backs up the problem, is there even a problem. Is worth the effort. And by the way, if you take the time to define the problems upfront and make sure everybody that needs to be in the small inner tent agrees, that's the problem. The solutions are easy to come up with.
Patricia: So with that, what I've found, Ryan, is if you take the problem and it, it happens kind of like the natural bell shape curve in life. What I've found here and in other places, if I ask everybody what the problem is, and I know that this is the problem, I find that some people are here, some people are here, some people are here.
Very few people outside the problem, but everybody sees the part of the problem that they are most attacked by, driven by passion, by hurt, by enabled, by whatever it is, but they see their piece. Now, my challenge here has been to make sure everybody knows, and everybody thinks if you don't give them the problem, that everybody has different problems.
My challenge here has been to show everybody it's one problem, just different sides of the same problem, different pieces of the same problem. And so that's how I've done it. I've done the, the most, you know, the, the least common denominator I've gone to. The highest common denominator, right? And so we've backed up my boss and I, and we've kind of looked at, okay, what is our main mission, north star business, strategic strategy, whatever word as you said, you wanna use, and this is what it is, okay? What piece of this puzzle are you gonna take?
But the first thing I did, you know how visual I am, right? Turns out my boss is just as visual and just as colorful. We created a mandala of our company. You know, the mandala that you, that you color in the mandalas, the coloring books for adults that have those beautiful…
Ryan: Oh yeah. They have a cool design that you can get creative with within it, with different colors.
Patricia: Yeah, I've heard that those are called mandalas and you buy that with lots of beautiful colors. So I, we drew a mandala of our company so that we could show visually how we are all interconnected and how we rely on each other. So we're trying to show through the mandala and through our common objectives, having the same large objective so that everybody knows what piece of the pie and I can see with my boss where I have gaps to solve the problem or why I have the overlap.
And that's how we've targeted to do that so that people can see that they're all part of the same problem, pushing in the same direction, so they don't start thinking, no, my problem's more, it's the same problem. And we have to see everything. 360, whatever we do, we have to see it 360. But in order to do that, you have to communicate with the same language.
Ryan: So, so the, the interesting thing about this, this goes back to the slime mold example. You and your business partner are already ahead of the game because you're thinking about how to unite everybody. But in the ground, slime mold still exists. People are still motivated, incentivized by their context.
So there's one thing I'm not gonna talk about, but it's, it's sort of understood. When you're in a trench and you are representing whatever you, how many of you have been in a meeting where somebody goes, well, from X department's perspective? And I, every time I hear that, I wanna say, no shit that's why you're here. You represent engineering, you represent insights, you represent marketing. Whatever it is.
Empathy's really important. We had Rob Volpe on last season. Take a curious breath. What is that person thinking? What's their vantage point? But Patricia's hard work, and this is why by the way, your job's gonna be lonely because you have all the context of what's best for Aldor.
And I believe I have all the context of what's best for Zappi. And it's actually impossible to distill that to how many people are in your organization.
Patricia: Well, in total, it's like 1,300, but I would deal with about 300, 400 'cause the plant is big
Ryan: Right. So, that's a lot of network, right?
So for those of you listening that are team leaders, think about that. For those of you that aren't team leaders, recognize your context is best broadened if you listen and see other people's viewpoints. 'cause you're in the room 'cause you have a certain set of expertise, doesn't mean you're the only expertise, right?
And so that's really important. But that's why problem definition is… I love the the drawing thing because it rounds out the problem. But once we have a mutual understanding of the problem, we're in business. Absolutely. You ready for the second one go. This is another obvious one. What's the outcome we're gonna drive?
What business outcome are we gonna drive? I am very passionate about customer-centric, employee-centric cultures. I'm also a for-profit businessman, dog. You feel me? What business outcome are we driving? Because if we're not driving the business outcome, what is the point? This is not a yoga class, and that's, by the way, I'll get off my little pedestal now.
Easy for me to say, hard to do. How impossible is marketing attribution as an example? Marketing attribution, such an easy thing to say. Literally impossible to do. So what's good enough? How are we gonna move the needle? We're gonna make our products simpler. How are we gonna, what outcome are we trying to drive?
We're gonna launch a new product. How are we gonna drive success? Well, is success net new, or what if it cannibalizes the base, right? So it's worth taking the time to do that. And if you don't have a proficiency in data orientation, get somebody in the room to help somebody. You could all have the clear problem, not, not def, this is the worst part about this.
You don't have a clear problem. You don't define success, and so you do the thing that kills companies. You keep iterating on a bad foundation and keep improving and keep improving, but your idea and your solution was wrong in the first place. Somebody asked on my LinkedIn post, well, what about fail fast?
Where does fail fast come in? This is where fail fast comes in. If you define a problem. Have a clear outcome and what you're doing is it's starting to move you there. Stop. Stop doing it. But this is hard, right? I mean, particularly now, I don't know if it's like this in your business, but it's not like this.
In my business, we're a small company, but there's a war over data and who owns the data and who owns the customer. And so it, it's probably quite difficult to get clear success metrics, particularly if you're a department like most of our audiences, consumer insights where the work you do contributes to the work somebody else does, which contributes to outcome, or if you're trying, if you've been asked, make our insights department agile, well, what the fuck does that mean? Super cool. Buzzword, McKinsey, thanks a lot for the $2 million invoice. But what exactly does that mean? Does that mean our people are doing more surveys?
Well, maybe that's not a good thing. Maybe we don't want to do more surveys. Does it mean they're spending more time in strategic engagement meetings? Okay, well that means they're probably doing less surveys, right? So you really have to think about the knock on effects of defining success.
Patricia: Absolutely. And for example, one of the things that I've found since I've moved companies is every single company defines success differently.
Ryan: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Patricia: And then within each co company, each department, so I have the operations, not here, but in my past jobs I've had the operations team have a KPI, right? That they're measured on and paid on. Here it's all about volume and right earnings before, I can do this. Earnings before interest, taxes, amortization, depreciation.
Ryan: Look at you. You're becoming a suit, Patricia. Don't do it.
Patricia: Oh, you know I got to do it. But no tie. No tie. I get to wear sneaks.
Ryan: EBITDA is such a funny word to make because you could say profit everybody. Why are we gonna make this more complicated?
Patricia: 'cause it sounds so cool. But speaking of that, suits and stuff. I'm wearing the coolest pair of sneakers ever existed in the face of the world. My sister and I designed them together. They're converse and they've got these beautiful flowers stitched on the side and in the back they say Aspire because I need motivation every day. So I'm not wearing the suit 'cause I'm working for a company That's so cool that it doesn't need a suit.
Ryan: But you learn how to say EBITDA, so that's important.
Patricia: And I learned what the words meant in English and in Spanish. Oh my God. But I mean, thinking about the problem, definition of what success looks like goes together.
I mean, defining the problem sometimes I've had to do it backwards. Sometimes people don't understand the problem as much as they understand what they want. Okay, tell me what you want. And then I'll, and then what's, and then I work it backwards. I backwards engineer, okay, what do you want? Why can't you get it?
Why are you not getting it? What are the problems? And I do the five layers of why. And that gets to, to the problem. So it doesn't matter if you do problem first or, or success. What success looks like first, as long as you get both, and that everybody on your team is doing exactly the same thing and focused on the same merit, which leads right to, to what your number three is…
Ryan: I think it is team and stakeholder mapping. This one's hard because it dovetails into the next one and it's hard with committees and frankly, it's hard with inclusive cultures, and I also chair the diversity committee here, but it's not a nice thing to say because if you have a very inclusive culture, when people don't get invited to a meeting, they get fomo. But if you got more than six to eight people in a meeting, you're wasting your fucking time.
Patricia: One pizza, one pizza.
Ryan: Dude, like I need to, and by the way, I need a couple of slices of pizza. I'm not gonna lie to you.
Seriously, there's a difference between your stakeholders and I'm gonna spend a minute on that and your core team, if you are trying to own a problem, first of all, make sure you are set up to succeed to own that problem.
Don't take the job, you're not able to do some unsolicited career advice. A lot of people do that. Now. You know the problem. Now you know the success. What skills, and by resources I don't mean people resources in terms of money, technology, external help. Do you need it? What are the different components of the business that this transformation touches?
Because if it didn't touch multiple things, it wouldn't be a transformation. It would be BAU. So if something you're thinking about right now involves upleveling people, swapping out tools, consolidating your data, getting your systems to talk, changing the way marketing works, changing the way agencies engage with marketing insights, transformation, ding, ding, dinging, it touches everything.
What is the smallest possible group of cross-functional people you can engage with that are going to be empowered to make decisions? That's the operative thing. Because if you're sending , if you're sending John on your team to a meeting to represent you, but John can't take a piss without your approval, your ass better be in the meeting, or you're just gonna sync the whole project.
And you're gonna waste John's time. You're gonna waste and, and John's just gonna be disempowered and you're gonna lose the most important thing that you have with people doing great things. And that's intrinsic motivation. If somebody's intrinsically motivated to solve a problem, they will move mountains.
So what is the smallest possible group of people you can assemble? Are they empowered to make a decision? Great. Now you need to identify three different groups that I'm gonna call stakeholders. Who in the hierarchy? Needs to be brought along the journey. Even in flat companies, there's hierarchy. So who in the hierarchy needs to be brought along?
Do you have an executive sponsor? And is that executive sponsor aligned cross-functionally with their team? Because if they aren't coming and they, you're just not gonna see 'em, that's a big one. The second is, who are people that probably wanna be in the room, but don't need to be that in the right way, can help you make a better decision?
I call them advisors. And at Zappi we have this thing called an advice process. And I see when it's used correctly. Advice process is really useful when it's used incorrectly. It resorts to consensus seeking. And I believe consensus and business is regression to the mean. You don't innovate if you have consensus.
So we, we've introduced this process as a result.
Patricia: On top of the fact that consensus takes forever.
Ryan: Amen, dude. And we don't have forever do we. We're trying to transform and we're not trying to transform 'cause we wanna, because remember we defined a problem and there's a business metric we need to move.
That's really important to our share price, our value, our job, whatever the hell it is. The advisors are useful, but it's hard to bring them along without big 28 person meetings.
So in our technology department, they innovated with this concept called request for comment. And as part of my learnings, I've rolled this out to the company broadly, request for comment is a way to say, this is the problem, this is the metrics, this is the core team. These are the solutions we think we're gonna pursue.
Do you have any advice? So then without getting in meetings, people can read and process in their own time. They don't need to be obnoxious or assertive. They can engage in the document or send a little video. Then the core team gets the benefit of the advice. Now, the advice process only works if you actually listen.
Doesn't mean you have to agree with what is being said. You actually listen and then you close the loop with the people whose advice you asked so that they know why you did what you did. Now the advisors are often gonna be conflated with the next group, which is the people whose job needs to change.
Because again, we're transforming something, right? So you want insights to be more strategic, but you gave them no upskilling. Nice job, VP of Insights. You nailed it. So how are we bringing the people who we need to change? Glen, who's our head of sales, always says, hearts and minds. Hearts and minds. Hearts and minds.
And he's right. If somebody's brought into the idea early and often they won't even feel like they're changing, they'll, they'll, 'cause they'll help build the foundation RFCs work for them too. How often, Patricia, have you been part of a transformation where hierarchy stakeholders, advisors, people need to be changing?
So you ready for the next one? This one's tricky and I bet you feel this one, so I'm excited to hear what you think. We got five people. How many, and you're gonna know the names here, how many times in the 12 key Zappi initiatives do you think Danielle Marquis was listed on the core team? Just guess.
Ryan: So, and you're right, by the way, Danielle, I love you to pieces. Danielle and her husband just got married and they are in for some congratulations. I'm seeing her on Instagram and they just look like they're so in love. Danielle runs revenue operations.
For those of you who work in big businesses, revenue operations is responsible for the tech stack, the data, the processes that enable marketing, sales, and customers service to do their thing. So everything that's a transformation, particularly in go-to-market touches. Poor Danielle. So the next learning is dependency mapping.
And dependency mapping is really important because with the best of intentions, somebody like Danielle is involved in everything because they're needed and wants to help 'cause they're intrinsically motivated. Sees the bigger picture, but they can't do 10 things at once because multitasking is bullshit.
Anybody who says they're a multitasker, I'm a little worried about because it's like, okay, so you're half listening, like, what do you mean? You can only do one thing at once, guys, anyway. So dependency mapping is actually looking at the core team and all of them being honest about what their other priorities are.And, sizing the amount of work that they're gonna need to do to determine if the project either is gonna work or b, needs to be prioritized relative to other things.
Because a lot of times the same few people are being asked to do the big things. The next one is linked to dependency mapping and its contracting. So now I've identified that Danielle's too busy, but we've reprioritized the projects. You're good and you're gonna focus on this, but we're all polite and so we assume good intent with each other.
Then all of a sudden, two weeks go by and Sylvia doesn't do what she said and Oh shit, she had a vacation. And John. John, yeah, his kids are sick and oh, my boss had an urgent thing that took precedent, or the board asked me to do this thing or whatever. That's called a lack of contracting. Patricia, you are gonna be responsible for part A of this project.
Would it be reasonable if you could achieve what you said you would do in seven days? Pause, listen, answer. Cool. That's called contracting. How often do we assume capital ASS, with the best of intentions? We're all gonna run as fast as each other, or we're all gonna be ready next Tuesday with our next steps.
But we, we forgot to mention, I'm going to Italy for three weeks 'cause it's July. All the stuff I've said so far is basic human communication, but it's awkward and it's hard to do, and this is the most awkward one. Contracting. I need you to own this by then. Can you do it?
Patricia: It's, it's hard because everybody wants to.Everybody wants to help. Everybody wants to do their thing. Everybody wants to be able to contribute, to feel important. That's human nature. Right. But we don't realize it maybe, and this has happened to us when we were together. How long is that gonna take? It takes three days.
What does that mean? Three days? Does that mean three days from start to finish or what does that mean? So we were having the same issue where it takes three days, but there's a pipeline. So it's not three days.
Ryan: Three days relative to the other 10 days of shit.
Patricia: Exactly. So, um, so we've, we're implementing, and this is thanks to my boss, who, by the way, he, I was on vacation, right. I know I just got here, but I was on vacation.
Ryan: Listen, you gotta take a break. You got a big transformation ahead of you. That should be in one of the learnings.
Patricia: There you go. And now he's on vacation. So we did, we did like one day overlap, two day overlap. And it was really cool because we sat down before I left and this is what I'm gonna do for your job while you're away.
He says, I mean this is, this is what I'm, what do you want me to focus on this, this, this, and this? And it was so clear. I came back and he goes, you told me to focus on this and I did this, this, this, and this. And so, oh, perfect. This is the status done. Now I'm gonna go away. I need you to focus on this, this, this, and this.
So it was like, so clean, so clear. So I, I mean that was contracting at its most amazing. Now he and I, and, and all of the directors and some of the managers read this book called The Four Principles of Execution. Because we realized that one of the things I recommended, one of the things that I really, but if you're gonna read it in one language, make sure your whole team reads it in the same language 'cause I read it in English. The rest of the team read same in Spanish. Blow my mind up. Right?
Ryan: Hold on. What's the name of the book?
Patricia: Four Principles of Execution.
Ryan: Oh man, these guys beat me to the book I guess. I'm just kidding. I know.
Patricia: So, yeah, it's, it's all about, it's all about how to actually execute and it's, and it's easy to read and it's simple when you read it. So of those four principles, what we realized is that it's all about the contracting. So we have the, the, and this is all about the 20%, not the 80%. This is about 20% because it's all about transforming your world.
And how does that go to our four principle brands, right? What are they gonna contribute but they're like, if you commit to five things, you're gonna do maybe one. If you commit to 10 things, you're gonna do maybe two.
Because what you just said, you can't do it all. Commit to two, and I bet you'll do two. So focus. So we each commit to one or two things. Maximum two. If three, if you have a lot of people on your team and you can separate and what are you gonna do this week to move that needle? And then at the end of the week we meet, how did you move?
And we're just beginning. We're just learning. You know what's hard? Not the weekly commitments, it's the levers. It's how to move. Everybody knows the big North Star. Everybody knows what they need to accomplish, and everybody knows what they're gonna do today, but what levers am I gonna pull? I mean, if you're a runner, those of you who are runners, my daughters are runners.
Shout out to my daughter Isabella. But she realized one day she was a sprinter in college in high school, that working on her arms made her go faster, blow my mind away. So one of her commitments to herself was to pump iron on her arms. And so her commitment was, okay, these X weeks are gonna work on this and I'm gonna, this is the weight I'm gonna do.
And she, she carved, she didn't call it for X 'cause she didn't need to, but she knew exactly what she was doing to move the lever. And the lever was speed, but the action was pumping iron with her arms. That's hard. That's hard, bro. That's really hard to figure out.
Ryan: It's hard. It's hard. Yeah. Remember, you probably remember this when you first joined Zappi, I was having everybody write down the one thing they were gonna do that week because it's being focused that matters everybody.
Patricia: And how many did people say when we did the round and everybody said many?
Ryan: That's why I stopped doing it. There were too many.
All right, so we got a couple bonus learnings here. Yes, we do hierarchy. God love us, but boy can we screw up a project. Oh God, can we ever debt in the core team? Empower the people who are on the core team to make decisions. The way you do that is you set crystal clear expectations of what you look, what you need.
You align to the success metrics you coach and give advice in the processes in which you set up. But it is fundamentally unacceptable, in my opinion, in today's business climate, to have a group of people, you're not part of it and they need to leave their work to get your approval, unless at the beginning of the project you say, these are my two hard edges.
If you need to break one of these, go outside of it as an example. We are updating our messaging right now. I'm on the core team. Why? Because I'm not comfortable not being on the goddamn core team. What does that actually mean? It means after our meeting yesterday when Lucie, our VP of marketing, iterated and sent messaging, guess what?
I responded the same day with feedback because that was the contract we had leaving the meeting. Hierarchy can fuck up. Transformation with the best of intentions. Let go of your Legos or get in the game folks. All right, last one. This one, I, I have to be honest with you, I rewrote this one because, My colleague Allison Scott did not like the way I wrote it and she was right.
Patricia: I love Allison Scott. Shout out to Allison Scott.
Ryan: Shout out to Allison Scott. Allison. Scott works with our customers to help 'em get more value out of our platform. Patricia recruited her to Zappi and I look up to Allison. I learn from her every time I talk to her.
Teams that naturally get along. were able to make up for mistakes they made in the other areas I just talked about. Vibe can replace sloppy execution, believe it or not. Can't explain it.
Patricia: I can.
Ryan: Go ahead.
Patricia: I can explain it to you the moment you rewrote it. And I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it, and I watched it in action, goodwill, and empathy because you understand each other better.
You understand it. You and I have been working together for a while. Alison and I have been working together for a while, have, you know, I don't have the pleasure of working with her every day now or with you, although I love this podcast because of that.
But when you have people that you trust, And you respect and you like all those things. At the same time, you have natural goodwill for them. So if they have done their thing that they said they were gonna do, you know, time and time and time again, if they slip once, you are like, oh, they must have forgotten.
Or, oh, they must have meant to do this, but they did that. And so you just fill in in the same way that they will do the same exact thing for you without being asked. Without being asked because it's just natural. The same way you do things for Jill, and Jill does things for you. I do things for my boyfriend, he does things for me.
It just kind of works. It just kind of goes. It's similar to finishing each other's sentences without stepping on each other's toes, right? That cannot be paid for, that cannot be invented, that cannot be created with anything but time, and time and experience. It's working together. It doesn't always work because chemistry dudes is chemistry.
I could work on any project with you and Allison for example. But it's all about that. It's all about, ywhen we're in a group of people that we respect, like, and trust, we are our best selves because we're assuming everybody else is being their best self.
Ryan: I think it's smart. So, there's a way to get at this, and there's a problem with this. So many of you have probably read this book, the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Patricia just naturally articulated a bunch of them. A dysfunctional team does not trust each other. Isn't willing to get into a fight. Won't commit to the cause, won't hold each other accountable and won't pay attention to the results. Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
If you have two or more of those on your team, work on it. If you don't have trust, you're fucked. Yes, you're in big trouble. So this is a really interesting tension for me, for two reasons.
Work has never been more disparate and diverse. Not as diverse, remote than it is right now. You don't have the benefit of as many minutes run into each other in the hallways. And I think, look, I get why a lot of companies are mandating people to come back into the office because it's really hard to be apprenticed if you're young.
If you don't have the ability to walk into your boss's office. It's really hard to meet people, et cetera. But it's really hard to establish a connection with people if you are in and outta zoom. And, 'cause let's face it, zoom's lonely, it sucks, and everybody's just waiting to push that red button anyways, point number one.
Point number two. It's well documented and proven that beyond it being the right thing to do for humanity, diverse teams innovate better. But diversity means we are not all loudmouth Rhode Island native Bros who like to go skiing. We might not have the same things in common. We might not have a natural shortcut.
We might get offended by different things. We might speak a subtly different language. We might act a certain way when we're stressed, a certain way when we're not stressed. And it is incumbent upon everybody to take the time to get to know each other. You have trust, you have to find it. I've done things with my team, uh, so I lead our executive team here.
I've done things like Hogan assessments to understand like, what makes you, when you're stressed, how are you gonna be naturally, . Like it really works. And, and, and we've done that exercise as a group to better understand each other, but, but this is why in person can't be forgotten.
That's why even though Zappi spent way too much money going to Bulgaria, the human connections that came from a week of people spending time together, build foundation and the level you can attribute of course.
So this leads to the last bonus learning. If you have a hard problem, You think you have a hard problem? Get on planes, get in a room. Spend two or three days together with a small cross-functional group of people. Have a really well structured agenda. Use post-it notes so that the loud mouse in the room aren't talking.
Don't prepare a bunch of PowerPoint slides, dot vote on the topic areas and the problems. Have a moderator. Bring in a moderator. If you don't, if you don't have, that's not you. Yeah. And, and by the way, if you're the person who's biased by it, you can't be running the meeting because you're biased. Dude, come on.
You know what I always notice at these in-person meetings, the real magic happens at dinner or on the walks in between the sessions because that's when humans connect with each other.
Patricia, those are the learnings. We have to innovate faster. Everybody listening, I hope these were valuable for you.
Patricia: Just to wrap them up because you know I have to do a summary 'cause if not, it won't be me.
Ryan: Oh, true.
Patricia: What does success look like? Define it at first. Make sure you know who your core team versus your stakeholders are. Make contracts so that you can each trust each other. Know and, and manage expectations. Do dependency mapping so that everybody knows who they depend on.
You need to make sure you manage your hierarchy. It's necessary, but it should not be something you know that's bureaucratic and, and, and completely bogs you down. And try to be face to face to solve your really hard problems. Do it 'cause it's really important. It's worth the investment.
Ryan: This was fun, ladies and gentlemen.
Ryan: We hope that you enjoyed this episode. As you're trying to transform and you learn stuff, please get at me with them because I'm just passionate about transformation and helping people make moves faster in an increasingly complex environment. So keep going.
Patricia: Lemme know if there's anything you need to know. If you have questions, I'm here, learning as I go and more than willing to share.
Ryan: Thanks for listening everybody. We'll be back soon with more fun. Cheers.
Patricia: Bye guys.