Capital One serves up a dose of our own medicine

Sometimes, a little whimsy is all you need. Whimsy, and discipline.

It was certainly whimsy that led me to submit Floricane’s name for ScopeAthon, an event organized by the Taproot Foundation and Capital One to help small businesses strengthen their processes. Believe me when I say that the six hours that Caroline, Theran and I spent working with a small team of Capital One process experts was worth its weight in gold. Or whatever is in your wallet.

It was, quite honestly, a bit like what many of you have experienced when you’ve brought Floricane into your own organizations.

We had a lovely start to our session. Amy, Krystal and Natasha were intrigued by Floricane. We talked about the history of Floricane, and our areas of focus, and the talented team that has assembled in recent years. And then I stepped away to take an important phone call and look for coffee.

Scopeathon Capital One Floricane

When I came back, Natasha leaned back into the conversation and said, “So, one of the common threads that keeps coming up for me is that John is the bottleneck.”

So much for the intrigue.

I resisted the urge to explain to her that it was really important for me to have my hands in everything, and that certainly my team appreciated my tendency to do their jobs for them because, well, I was awake at three in the morning and had some free time.

Instead, I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and let Theran explain some of the ways I was making it hard for him to be effective in his role as a lead consultant. 

At no point did anyone say I was a jackass or a micromanaging control freak.

No, what emerged was a lot more subtle.

The core philosophy of Floricane, and many of the people, events, models and theories that inform it, live mostly in my head. Our core business processes aren’t written down. Our standard tools change frequently. There are no clear pass-offs in our flow of work. And so on.

The result of this? Every decision flows through me. So, it kind of sucks if you work for Floricane and you’re not me. And it kind of sucks if you are me.

It’s never fun when a consultant (or three) tell you that you lack discipline. (It’s happened before.)

While it was nothing new, it was the first time we sat down for a half-day and allowed someone else to name it, explain why it was going to continue to create pain for us, and to help us begin to solve it. A lack of discipline is apparently why God invented process.

The four process steps our team agreed to tackle include:

  • Everyone knows our mission, purpose and core areas of work. We’ll spend some serious time learning together – about Floricane’s core philosophy, but also each team member’s experiences and beliefs. We’ll unpack each of our core lines of business – strategic planning, coaching, facilitation, organizational development – and ensure all of us understand how we do what we do.

  • We’ll move from process mapping to process training – making sure that every team member can speak about our work effectively, write a proposal and contract, and pass off new client information to our bookkeeper.

  • We’ll establish new metrics – both to track our business performance, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the work we are doing for our clients.

  • We’ll shift our approach to business development with each of us responsible for a different mix of new and existing client work.

Between now and the end of December, we have more than six days blocked out for the Floricane team to work on the business. And we have a check-in on the books in January to report back to our Capital One overlords on our progress. I miss the whimsy already…