Ever since Erin Faulk left her job at Procter & Gamble to join us almost two years ago, she’s been an absolute powerhouse. Not only has she added to our culture with her infectious smile, endless positivity, and quick wit, she’s quickly innovated new approaches and optimized existing ones. The Strategy Sprint approach she pioneered enables teams to tackle tough strategic challenges in just 10 days — learning new skills and building their teams in the process. And, her recent work with Taylor Lowry and other members of our team to create a 5-day Innovation Pipeline Accelerator approach is enabling teams to develop strong ideas, rooted in deep consumer empathy and solid Jobs to be Done. Bigco teams value her ownership and strategic thinking, and our team values her collaborative nature and boundless energy.
So effective June 1, we’re not only excited to announce the launch of our Chicago office, we’re also excited to announce Erin’s promotion to Vice President of Lean Growth. In this role, Erin will trailblaze and grow the Chicago Region team, and continue to work with our Bigco clients to help them innovate and grow by leveraging startup-inspired approaches.
We sat down with Erin to learn more about her experiences at The Garage Group and what advice she has for Bigco teams and aspiring entrepreneurial leaders.
My biggest learning has been the conscious adoption of a founder’s mindset. While I have never lacked passion, accountability, or dedication, my transition to TGG made me aware of mental barriers I had unconsciously built over time that hindered me from truly thinking like an owner. Among many things, those barriers included hierarchical guardrails present at many companies, fear of overstepping set roles, and reward systems of promotions based on running a clearly defined playbook. At TGG, Ann and Jason have created a culture of dependence and co-ownership that is pervasive across the company.
At TGG, we leverage the entrepreneurial tool of infusing external inspiration in the form of Trends & Analogs into the Bigco Ideation process. By forcing teams to think about a problem from multiple perspectives, it enables teams to think expansively about solutions by collecting and connecting dots in new ways.
This thinking has had a strong impact on my personal life. For one, I can’t help myself from mentally cataloging new Trend & Analog examples across business challenges when I’m at Starbucks, at a restaurant, or at the movies. Additionally, when faced with a tough problem on my own, I find myself thinking “What problem am I really trying to solve?” Next, “What are all of the logical options I have today?” Finally, “Where else is a similar problem being solved?”
The power of starting small. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the pressure to disrupt existing category norms, operationalize entrepreneurial thinking, and strive for organizational transformation. By starting small – tackling a single business challenge on a single brand – you build momentum. This momentum accelerates across brands, categories, functions, and leaders.
Every day, I am pushed outside of my comfort zone and forced to learn something new. At TGG, success looks like getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, staying humble, and embracing a growth mindset. As a result, I have the courage and conviction to push myself, my team, and our clients harder, to think more boldly, to see problems from new perspectives, and to challenge the status quo.
Internally, my most memorable experiences at TGG always include a white-board – from collaborating on new-to-the-world capabilities, vetting new approaches to tackling client challenges, or mapping out our strategy to beat Jason in foosball.
Externally, my favorite part of working with client teams is on Day 3 of a Sprint. Across industries, across business challenges, Day 3 is when teams have landed in the unclear, uncomfortable “muddiness.” This is the day where teams tend to lose steam. It is hard and scary, and it is easy to reclaim a fixed mindset and revert back to what is known. By challenging the teams to stay focused on the objective and holding them accountable for the Entrepreneurial Rules of Engagement we agreed to uphold, we get through the day – together.
Maybe it’s because it’s the most athletically-relevant Hustle behavior, but I most align with Showcasing Agility. I thrive on creative problem-solving, but I am a rule follower. As a result, I start by clarifying the objective and then identifying guardrails. Without commitment to a single path forward, I’m well-positioned to pivot when roadblocks appear, with flexibility to uncover new opportunities along the way.
I’m excited to tackle my next challenge! Chicago will be our first office outside of Cincinnati, so there is no playbook, and there are many more questions than we have answers. But, we’re taking our own medicine, and learning from startups that add value in the face of uncertainty. Professionally, I’m excited for the opportunity to expand my network and build out a team. Personally, I’m excited for carry-out from Athenian Room and long runs along the lake.
We’ll miss Erin here at the Cincinnati office, but we’re proud for Erin to make the move! Come congratulate her at the Fireside Chat on May 30th. Follow the link for more details.