Today, I had a chat with a colleague at work – Geetika, the CTO at Jigsaw Academy. Our conversation gave me an idea about you could lead a team of people – your team at work, your kids, your cricket teammates, whatever.
The idea is based on whitelists & blacklists. In other words, do you allow everything by default or do you say no by default?
Personally, I have a ‘whitelist’ based approach because that works for me. I have a fucking amazing team and I want them to have as much creativity and freedom as possible – as long as the work gets done.
More importantly, I have given them explicit instructions to experiment. (In my words, you have permission to fuck up while trying something new!) I will take the blame.
The only request? Don’t make the same mistake twice.
This way, they have psychological safety around their work – and they give me stellar results. In fact, some of the best ideas I’ve had are because of this freedom I give my team. This also adds significantly to the output I can generate, freeing up my brain cycles to focus on things that move the needle.
Caveat: This is scary as hell. You have no clue what’s coming up, but as you get used to your team, the fear goes away.
If you keep doing the same thing, you’re gonna get the same results.
– Me paraphrasing a famous quote.
Now, on the other hand, the blacklist approach may be the best way forward – especially in areas with zero margin for error – like rocket science, for example. Personally, if used outside such places, I find the blacklist approach to be very stifling – destroying team morale and productivity. Your team can no longer be the multiplier of your efforts.
If in doubt, go with the whitelist approach. The results you get are the stuff of legend.