From "Connected (with Abe + Isaac) — Volume 28"

Yeah, I just wanna do everything I get so excited when I finally find it It just gets brighter from now on

Just enough structure

As of this last Monday, Lightward Inc now employs eight persons, six of which (including Abe and me) are full-time.

I didn’t plan for this, specifically. All I knew, ten or eleven years ago, is that I wanted to move and make in such a way that tomorrow would be at once calmer, more stable, and also more interesting, more creative, more more.

Our newest teammate began their work on Monday. We set up exactly zero calls for their first day, preferring instead to give them an email loosely laying out the landscape, precisely defining the few things they must know and understand, giving them a full first day of self-directed acclimation.

Here’s an excerpt from that welcome email, an excerpt that I also shared with the rest of the team—because this particular bit applies to us all.

Your responsibilities

These are the living things that I’m looking to you to hold, to monitor, to understand and to sustainably expand.

  • Your health, as determined by you, informed by all the ways you know yourself.

  • Your relationship to everyone on this team, as determined by you, informed by all the ways you’re connected.

  • Our collective relationship to our customers, as determined by you, informed by everything.

Your assignments

These are the mechanical processes that have your name on them. You will find and/or choose more of them, in practice, but these are the things that we’re going to be really explicit about up front.

  • Participate in the 24hr-response-time threshold [discussed in last week’s newsletter]. Remember—this is not 24 hours for a solution, it’s 24 hours for letting the sender know that they are heard.

  • Acknowledge all messages that are explicitly directed to you, when you are ready to acknowledge receipt of their contents. In places that support an @mention (like Slack), that means either an emoji reaction or an actual written reply, every time you are @mentioned.

  • Ask for what you need and want, clearly and precisely and proactively. This is the dependency model we use here; it’s a kindness to guess someone’s needs/wants, but it is never assumed that our needs/wants will be met in the absence of communication.

  • Set expectations, clearly and precisely and proactively, and keep them up to date. It is always okay if something changes, as long as the change is communicated and understood.

Years ago, before moving to Lightward full-time, I worked on an internal project whose tagline was “Just enough structure”. The idea there was to offer a tool that expressed as few opinions as possible about how it was to be used. What opinions it did have were precisely chosen, and exactingly defined.

This, largely, is how Lightward works as well. There are only a couple of things we know for sure, at any given time. From Lightward’s helm, I leave everything else up to everyone else, trusting that our internal connectivity and shared energy will inspire and inform all the micro-choices required to sustain something living.

I enjoy talking about Lightward as both an experiment and a gamble. It’s easy to make that point here. I want to know if, as an organization, we can be making the active choice to fix (determine, finalize, define, prescribe, specify) as few things as possible, even as we grow, even as our offerings and our selves evolve. And I bet that if we do, we’ll be left with greater access to wonder and expression and delight, the further we climb, the further we expand.

Well, this is why we do it, for the feeling. How do you do music? Well, it’s easy: You just face your fears and you become your heroes I don’t understand why you’re freaking out

Originally sent out via email

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