Twice a year, the entire Mind Over Machines team gathers to discuss the state of our union. We call these biannual summits our AllMINDs meetings. At the most recent one, I spoke about the importance of transparency, one of our organizational pillars. These 3 concepts are central to who we are: Transparent, Human-Centric, Data-Informed.
So, what does it mean to be transparent? The words that come to my mind are clear, open, honest, trustworthy and credible. I boil that down into a simple definition. Transparency is being “real” with each other. It’s dropping the pretense and getting real about what you want, need, think and feel. In any conversation, transparency will get you a lot further a lot faster than slick posturing.
Transparency has to start in-house. First, I want my team members to communicate in a transparent manner with each other across all levels of our organization. When you have that level of trust at home, you can take it out into the world. Then, I want every single team member to give and receive the respect of transparent conversation in every client interaction. Consistently transparent communication constitutes a partnership.
Here are my 4 hallmarks of transparent partnership:
Partners Sit with You
My friend, mentor, and partner Steve Navarro, our general manager and chief revenue officer, likes to use the phrase, “We want to have a seat at the table.” I love the imagery that evokes regarding our relationship with our clients. For me, it isn’t people in business suits negotiating across a sterile conference table. In my mind, I see a trusted friend and advisor sitting in the seat beside you at your kitchen table. Sharing in your dreams, understanding your fears, and untangling the challenges that we lay out on the table together. We help turn your dreams into actionable plans, and when it’s all said and done, we sit back in our seats together to revel in the victory of our delicious meal before we plan out our next meal together. I don’t know if that’s exactly the imagery in Steve’s mind when he uses the phrase, but I like it.
Partners Share in the Doing
In our business, the term “vendor” makes me cringe. A vendor is just selling something, a hot dog or a soft pretzel. A partner shares in the doing. Merriam-Webster says a partner is “one associated with another, especially in an action.” We get things done, together.
I like to picture us linking arms with our clients and walking beside them through both the fires and the greener pastures. Yes, we may be leading them to those pastures, but it’s always with our arms linked. Think of all the adventures Dorothy had arm in arm with her brain, heart and courage personified. It’s much easier to tackle the tough stuff with trusted friends by your side.
Think of every buddy-cop movie you’ve ever seen. Partners always have each other’s backs. A partner protects you – sometimes from yourself and sometimes from those who are not as transparent. Tech partners have another special (and especially difficult) charge to protect their clients from the unexpected. That’s what we mean by future-proofing or avoiding disruption. It isn’t always possible, but we do our best to see all the angles and guide you around potential pitfalls.
When partners are in the trenches together, working and protecting, there is no infighting. A partner never points the finger. When we’re being transparent, we all know where we stand anyway. I’m getting a bit sentimental here, but I LOVE conversations with our clients where I feel like we’re all being real and the partnership is felt across the board. We all want the same thing, and we’re all working so hard together to get there. It’s inspiring, motivating, and it feels really good.
I am the Chief Delivery Officer, so of course, I’m going to bring it home with the importance of delivery. A brilliant tech solution is the ‘what,’ but the delivery is the ‘how.’ It is at least equally important, and I’d argue more so. Any vendor can throw a great solution over the wall to you. A partner brings the great solution to the table, implements it, coaches you through adoption, and engineers consistent improvement, all with arms linked.
Transparent conversation makes true partnership possible. We work to achieve a common goal and share in the victory. That’s world-class. That’s what I want for every single engagement, with every single client, on repeat. Work is a heck of a lot more fun when you can sit around the table sharing the celebratory dessert with a partner you enjoy being real with.
Carrie Schuckle is one of those lucky few who found her true calling in college. She was swimming along in a marketing major when a C++ programming course altered her trajectory forever. She switched her major to information systems management and became the cheerleader who codes on the weekends. “I’ve always loved solving puzzles. Software engineering is fun, but consulting services took it to a whole new level for me, from playing with code to solving clients’ real-world business problems.”
IT isn’t traditionally considered a helping profession, but Carrie has made it one. As a woman in tech leadership, she encourages often-quiet voices to speak up. “I work to bring empathy, kindness and care to every room I enter.” She’s still a coding cheerleader, prioritizing the fulfillment of professional and personal goals and dreams of her Delivery team members as well as her client partners every day.
While clients and colleagues appreciate Carrie’s problem-solving prowess, her husband may occasionally be annoyed by it. At home, she’s typically creating lists and projects for him and solving problems he didn’t know they had. She loves hitting the road to enjoy her 3 kids’ soccer games and cheer competitions near and far, but when Carrie really wants to kick back, you’ll find her on the couch with a bottle of chianti and an Xbox controller.