A couple of years ago we started a tradition of picking a battle cry at the beginning of each year. The idea originally came during the football season of 2013; Ohio State was under new leadership, Urban Meyer had just taken over as the head coach, and his enthusiasm to be back in his home state was contagious. At the beginning of the season, the future looked bright. Two elite players, Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, were poised to have a great year and lead the team through the season. However, as with all team sports, it never comes down to just a few guys.
Urban knew that in order to push for a national championship he was going to have to unite his whole team around a single central goal. A battle cry. That year for Ohio State it was The Chase, and the idea centered around the process of chasing a national championship. Note that it did not center around winning the national championship, but rather around the process, which is critical to even getting selected for the game in the first place. Coach Meyer knew that if he could get his team to understand the importance and the significance of the intense work and focus required to get to the big dance, they would be uniquely prepared to actually win it. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson; Life is a journey, not a destination, and it is obvious that this idea was understood by the Ohio State coaching staff.
That year their team went 12-0 during the regular season for the second consecutive year. An amazing accomplishment in any sport, much less the hyper-competitive Division One college football league! (I grudgingly admit this, as I was born and raised in Michigan.) As the postseason was ramping up and the bowl games were about to begin, Ohio State was featured in a television broadcast special in which they detailed the idea behind their battle cry The Chase. This was the point which inspired me to do the same thing with our team. It was the end of the year, we were planning for 2014 and starting to set goals, so it was the perfect time to introduce this idea as another arrow in our leadership quiver. As such, we began the process.
What about Goals or a Mission Statement?
Overall goals and a mission statement are critical pieces required to build and unite a team in a shared purpose and direction, and we spent considerable time in building these necessary elements. In order for it to work successfully, the battle cry MUST work in conjunction with your mission statement and your goals for the year. There is no way that you can accomplish what you want to if your battle cry pushes in a direction which is different than your goals. However, we wanted something that was simpler, that could be used in everyday conversation, and that held the power of an idea. Think of the end of the classic movie Braveheart, when William Wallace screams out, FREEEEEDOMMMM!
That is what we were looking for. Something that had a deep emotional hook, but could be used in everyday conversation. Something that gave a “why” or “how” to our “what.”
So we got to work. Ultimately, we decided that this had to be done as a team. Daniel and I have always emphasized teamwork here at Gauge, as we believe it is central to our success internally, and also with our clients. Therefore, everything we do has an element of teamwork and partnership to it. Without it, we can’t hope to be a unified group, much less accomplish our goals, or the goals of our clients.
Our first step was to introduce the idea to the team. Individually, we asked everyone on our team to brainstorm and come up with a few of their own ideas. Then we put them all on a whiteboard, and left them there for a week or so. This gave everyone time to ponder each current selection, and add more to the list as they came up with ideas.
After we had enough time to let the ideas percolate, we got together again and had a number of voting rounds to get down to the winner. This year we did the same process. It took us 3 rounds of voting to narrow it down to our final team selection. And, just like last year, it came down to the last vote!
And The Winner Is…
This year, the final battle cry selection is Bit by Bit.
The common thread that ran through our discussions this year was the idea of building. We have seen great growth over the past years, and this year we want to continue that. Some of our major objectives revolve around continuing to build and refine a number of internal processes; no small task! Additionally, all of the work we do for our clients revolves around building. Building an eCommerce website, building an integration between an ERP or accounting system, or building an email marketing campaign, are just a few examples. In fact, our mission statement revolves around the building process: “Build relationships and businesses through care-filled service.” However, it can often be overwhelming to look at the things you want to accomplish for an entire year. We have very ambitious goals about how we want to build our business for the long haul, and all of them require a significant level of commitment and dedication. So we took inspiration from this quote by the Roman Emperor Hadrian; Brick by brick my citizens. Brick by brick. Hadrian rebuilt the Pantheon, and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. He is also known for building Hadrian’s Wall; which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. All of these were massive projects, and were required after wartime destruction of much of the empire. He had the challenge of leading a huge number of people through a very daunting task, and he encouraged his people to think not of the overall size of the task, but Brick by brick.
We adapted his statement to use Bits instead of Bricks. Bits are the building blocks of software, according to Wikipedia: A bit is the basic unit of information in computing and digital communications. Since our business revolves around digital marketing, eCommerce, and web development, this made a lot of sense.
Adding to the meaning of this battle cry is another phrase we kick around the office a lot regarding our internal time and task management; our Top 3. We encourage our team to spend some time each day determining what their top 3 tasks are. The idea of breaking down everything you have to do into your 3 top tasks easily compliments the idea of working Bit by Bit.
For many years we have also used Colin Chapman’s phrase, Add Lightness, as an encouragement to pursue simplicity where at all possible. So there were multiple internal ideas and phrases already in use that lent credence to the idea of focusing on building Bit by Bit. All of these combined made this phrase a clear winner, and we are excited to put it in place for 2015.
How We Will Use It
Since the phrase is so simple, we intend to use it in everyday conversation the most. When planning a meeting, or working on a complicated marketing plan, or building a Statement of Work for a large Magento Enterprise project, working Bit by Bit becomes a critical exercise. It’s something we can use to encourage and guide each other. It will help to keep us on the right track. And it will remind us to avoid overcomplicating things.
We are also looking forward to creating some custom artwork for the phrase. We may put it on some t-shirts, or hang it up in our office. We’re currently working on ideas for this, so I will make another post detailing the final outcome when we’ve settled on a direction.
Urban Meyer chose to put it everywhere, so the statement was ubiquitous. They put it on t-shirts, hats, team documentation, and even large banners on the practice field.
We don’t have much of a practice field, but we do plan on taking our team, our clients, and our business, to heights we have never reached before.
We are going to do it Bit by Bit.