Craig Dickman is the Managing Director at TitletownTech, a venture capital organization that empowers, supports, and invests in entrepreneurs throughout their startup journey.
For this subseries, Nikki has partnered with Performa, a purpose-driven, fully integrated architecture, engineering and design firm that gives people (and purpose) the space to thrive. In this episode, Craig, Nikki, and co-host Brian Netzel of Performa discuss deliberate design of the workplace experience and making purposeful leadership decisions.
Truth You Can Act On
1. Be Deliberate in Your Leadership Strategy
Craig Dickman: “In one of the companies I founded and ran for about 15 years I used to keep track of how many people we hired or asked to join the organization when we had no job for it. Instead of going out and saying, ‘Hey, I want a director of finance, here’s her job description. Let’s go find that person.’ We kind of adopted a strategy that said, ‘You know what? We know who we are as an organization, and when we meet someone that we think would make us better, someone who would represent some of those underlying values and some of that sense of purpose, we would invite them into the organization.’ And then once they were in the organization, we would figure out what they wanted to do. There were times that as many as a third of the people in the company that I was operating were hired more because of who they were and what excited them than the skill set they had or what they were going to be asked to do inside our organization, but we were deliberate in doing so to empower our organization.”
2. Plan Time to “Be”
Craig Dickman: “Our team starts every week by getting together with no agenda. We don’t follow a script. We don’t say we’re going to cover these three things. We’re not saying we’re going to come together and figure out what our agenda is for the week. It’s not any of those things. Our focus is coming together and discussing whatever’s on the minds of the people who are there, ultimately, which is going to influence the work that’s being done.”
3. Create Gaps
Craig Dickman: “Breakthroughs don’t occur when you’re working on something intently. When you’re trying to hit a deadline, when you’re trying to solve a complex problem, you’ve gotta be working on it. Then you’ve got a great gaps, both as an individual and as an organization, and so I make sure that I create and try to make sure that the organization does create gaps after we’ve worked on something that’s significant and intense where we might not have developed an answer or a consensus. That way we can come back and it’s almost like I’ve got a great idea in the shower kind of concept. lIt’s about bringing that deliberately into an organization and creating gaps, because I really do believe that’s when some of the real thought breakthroughs can happen”
4. Consider Co-creating Dream Jobs
Craig Dickman: “I wasn’t expecting to interview anyone that day for a job that I wasn’t looking for, and yet we found ourselves sitting across the table and I remember saying, ‘Okay, so we don’t have a job for you, but tell me, if you could do anything you want to do, what would it be? What would be your dream job?’ And she went through and identified, ‘I’d love to do this. I’ve always wanted to do this. In my last job, I did this. I didn’t like it.’ And she went through and kind of shared some of the things she was looking for. Then I said, ‘Okay, well in our organization. Here’s some things that we kind of need. Here’s some things that we don’t.’ And I went through my list trying to be as transparent as she was. And then we said, okay, now that we both know a little bit about each other and what we do and don’t like. If we put these together, what would it look like? And so, we literally had a blank piece of paper and used it to create a role inside an organization.”