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Leadership

How to Run a Business Without Losing Your Mind

Julie Babb
Julie Babb

When you’re operating a team within a large organization, demands on your time can pile up quickly. As soon as the new outbound sales team is humming, you move on to customer support, only to find that the outbound team has gotten lost without you. Then you tackle the product roadmap with your product manager, only to discover that the product team is ignoring bug reports from the customer support team. The reality is, you can spend 80 hours a week trying to fix these things, but you’ll never spin the plates fast enough. And people keep throwing more plates at you!

The solution, for your business and your sanity? Feedback loops. By implementing a solid framework of building, measuring and learning, you can design a system that spins the plates for you, while you focus on more important tasks. As your business grows, feedback loops ensure that you can keep up.

Live A Little Less Like This.
Running a business is like plate spinning
And a Little More Like This.
Build Measure Learn for business owners

The Build-Measure-Learn framework was popularized by The Lean Startup, and is frequently used in product development and innovation work to encourage adjustments based on feedback and incremental steps toward a goal.

It’s pretty simple, at least in concept. You build a thing; you measure that thing’s performance (or cost, or impact); and you figure out what you’ve learned from the process. Then, you apply that insight to the next thing you build. Not only does this approach make teams more efficient, it ensures that everyone on the team is locked into a learning and growth mindset.

Build, Measure, and Learn

The build-manage-learn framework has a wide variety of applications. I often apply it to management. In a healthy business, every team is doing some form of building, measuring and learning. For example, at Part and Sum, each of our strategists partners with clients from multiple accounts. On each account, the lead strategist has developed build-measure-learn feedback loops. They define a marketing idea or hypothesis, experiment with a marketing tactic and measure the results to see if the idea had legs. Clients, as collaborators, get to participate in this process and benefit from it, too.

Internally, our strategists have designed another loop. They share ideas on how to succeed with similar accounts, stay updated on each other’s work via account reviews and show-and-tell sessions and get together for group brainstorms.

Here’s where the sanity comes in. If you stop thinking that you’re responsible for the success of the entire business (and everyone on your team), and start thinking that you’re simply responsible for putting clear feedback loops in place, life suddenly becomes less overwhelming. What’s more, your job description comes into clearer focus.

Here’s how I incorporate build-measure-learn processes in my approach as a people leader: it’s all about empowering, informing and celebrating.

You must celebrate, empower and inform your team to be able to build, measure, and learn
Empower

Give your teams the confidence and tools they need to make things happen.

Inform

Makes sure everyone has the context to keep them focused on what really matters.

Celebrate

Everyone on your team puts in effort to do meaningful work. It’s your job to make sure they’re excited about it. Take time to acknowledge and celebrate wins of all types and sizes. That’s a positive way to reflect on lessons learned.

Have you thought about your business as a feedback loop? Share it with us! Contact Us