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What I Learned After 3 Months at Productive Flourishing
I joined Productive Flourishing (PF) in December of 2020, just a little over three months ago. But what I’ve realized over my years of working professionally is that all transitions are an opportunity to learn.
Before PF, I spent 13 years in marketing, gaining strategy and advertising experience at agencies, tech start-ups, and even while starting my own business. My background in tech was a big part of the reason I was excited to join Team PF. I’m delighted to continue building the upcoming app, as well as fill in the marketing gaps that PF has recently realized were missing.
Having spent the last decade and a half in the working world, I’ve had a variety of experiences with various sized teams and organizations, and working for PF has given me no shortage of new lessons learned as well.
Onboarding and Documentation
I’ve never had a better onboarding experience than I’ve had at PF. I’ve spent my entire career in startups and small businesses, though I’ve also worked for companies as large as 150 employees. Despite PF’s small size (the core team is just seven people), it was really easy for me to get up to speed on everything happening in the business without interrupting the team. The primary reason for that is PF’s habit of writing everything down.
The team is mostly allergic to meetings, so every project is required to have a project plan before any meetings happen. Those written plans mean people think through their ideas before others get involved, which saves everyone time. They have the added benefit of creating a document trail for new people to understand the context for how things are happening.
Before PF I never realized that the real value of writing down your ideas is to help the rest of the team keep up and have everyone ready to contribute by bringing themselves up to speed.
Focus Is Painful
Despite the small team, PF generates a TON of blog posts, social media activity, and other content. The team was used to creating new products and offers at a rapid pace; the whole team is prodigiously creative and hard working.
If you’ve ever been so excited about multiple ideas at the same time that you can’t talk, you’ve experienced this feeling, so seeing it happen in a group setting is fascinating. PF is an exciting, creative, and dynamic team with so many ideas they can’t get them all out.
I saw that we were all actually getting in our own way. So many exciting ideas have actually been a distraction to the team. In a competitive marketplace, without proper segmentation, making too many different offers can confuse your audience. Managing that kind of segmentation requires a team, and having a single person doing it creates a single point of failure in the business. Also, segmenting a relatively small audience means you don’t have enough potential customers in each segment to convert them into significant revenue.
We agreed to go on a product diet, not introducing any new offers for at least the next two quarters. Currently, we’re focusing on the growth of the Productive Flourishing Academy and seeking funding for the app.
I was afraid this kind of focus was going to meet resistance from the team, but the truth is that the team was grateful for the honed-in direction. The mental load of trying to effectively market multiple efforts was a real challenge.
Now our challenge is to see if this focus enables deeper, better work outcomes. I believe it will. We recently offered a free trial to the Academy, and at the end of the one-month trial, we’re at 60% conversion from free trial to paid member.
Mental and Emotional Safety
Because of the team’s allergy to meetings, when we do have them they are typically longer and highly structured.
Our weekly team huddle is the only all-team meeting. A practice that I’ve only seen on this team is to “highlight the meeting.” During this, we go around the virtual room and ask each person what their highlight of the meeting is, and usually, it’s a decision that was made in the meeting. When it’s not, it’s usually something hilarious or random that happened in the meeting – a funny turn of phrase, a riff on a tangent (favorite classic rock band was a recent fave), or a learning moment for a team member.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that meetings are not a fight here. At other organizations, meetings become a time for people to compete over whose idea is better or to undercut the work others are trying to do. At PF, I see none of that. An idea is either good on its own merits, or not. We discuss and point out problems, but it’s all in service of the business rather than individual reputations or egos. Obviously, this is easier in smaller organizations, but it’s worth pointing out that a team can be super productive and still foster a culture of inclusion and fun.
If the next three months are anything like the first three, then I’m certainly looking forward to the future. In particular, we have some big goals for the Academy. The collaboration and early results are encouraging, so if you’re a leader of teams, consider joining us – we’d love to have you!