(Re)Building from the ground up

A few years ago the New Zealand Warriors went through a particularly tough patch. I remember watching them recover from that particularly tough patch. I recall the way the team would back each other up after mistakes. After a dropped ball or a missed tackle, several team mates would approach the player, offering advice and consolation. Back-pats, smiles, words of encouragement. With this supportive culture, they reduced their mistakes, improved, and went on to complete one of their greatest seasons.

A year ago the engineering team at Vend went through a rough patch. We didn’t have our shit together. We were a new team trying to operate in the hairball structure of an early start-up, where everyone demands everything and everyone just builds stuff as fast as they possibly can. We struggled to ship at pace.

With the application of focus, a bit of structure (but mostly trust), and heaps of great new people, we’ve improved. We’re incredibly tough on ourselves and are convinced that we’re a long way from optimum output, but we’re better.

I’ve come to realise that building a high-performance team in a fast growing business is just one long fail. At any point in time you can only think “hell, we have to do better than this”. Yet when you look back over a year of growth, the improvement is phenomenal.

Every day we start from yesterday’s mistakes and failures, building a team that can cope with tomorrow’s inevitable challenges and changes.

Today, we drop the ball and we pat each other on the back and offer words of advice. Tomorrow we will do better.

Tomorrow we do a bit better, but we still drop the ball and we pat each other on the back and offer words of advice.

And the next day we do a bit better.

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