Entrepreneurial Rules of Engagement for Remote Innovation & Growth Teams | The Garage Group

Entrepreneurial Rules of Engagement for Remote Innovation & Growth Teams

We’re spending a lot more time online these days, and that means shifting the way we engage with each other. While we are used to working virtually (a large part of the work we do with clients is remote and we have offices in two cities) we knew a 100% remote-work world would require a different set of tools. To quickly identify the right strategies and tools, we started by outlining what jobs we needed to accomplish through our remote work (e.g., real-time collaboration, team-building). Knowing we needed to move fast, we crowd-sourced a list of tools that the team and our network thought could get the job done for us. We tapped one person to dig into the tools, make recommendations to the team, and immediately started experimenting! 

As with most things we do at The Garage Group, we are adhering to some of our entrepreneurial rules of engagement as we build, test, and learn on what it looks like to be a highly collaborative, 100% remote Innovation and Growth team. That means we don’t have all of the answers (we’re learning new things constantly; here is a blog detailing our recent experiences running a Jobs to be Done session virtually) but here are a few ways we’re thinking about things as we’ve shifted to collaborating with one another in a remote way:

Check your “we can’t do that’s” at the door

Whether it’s rethinking how we engage with each other or leaning into new tools, we are committed to giving things a try. In a transition to a 100% virtual business, we don’t have the luxury of saying “we can’t do that.” The most impressive entrepreneurs believe they can find a  way to do anything. When we started on this 100% remote journey last week, the team immediately leaned in to say “what needs to be true” for us to tackle any virtual challenge. 

We’ve been leaning into how to enable collaboration, and displayed thinking – key enablers of collaborative in-person work and sessions, virtually. We’ve leaned into using Miro (which also gives us our Post-it note fix). Miro is giving us a way to capture everything we want to capture in one space without having to be in the same room. It’s proving to be a great way for our team to virtual whiteboard in real-time and play with new approaches to meetings and sessions. 

Showcase Agility

We continue to realize that if something isn’t working in a 100% remote world, we have to quickly lean in to pivoting our approach or finding a new tool to ensure we keep everyone engaged. 

When we started on this 100% remote journey, we wanted to feel connected as a team, so every day we had a 30 minute end of day “catch-up.” They felt clunky and like everyone wanted to talk, yet no one got to. We quickly realized we needed to pivot if we wanted to stay connected and make these meetings meaningful. In a F2F large meeting situation, you have the luxury of chatting with the person sitting next to you and asking simple questions to drive connectedness like “how was your morning,” or “I liked that article you shared, thanks for that.” Those moments make us feel more connected to each other. In a virtual setting, having moments like that results in 15 people trying to talk over each other. The result is no one knows what is going on or feels connected. 

To solve this, in our big meetings, we’ve been experimenting with using Zoom Breakout Rooms to break out into small teams (~2-3) via virtual chat rooms to have small group discussions around a prompt or reflection question. We are finding it can help drive that connectedness and keep all of the team better engaged. When we come back together, each team appoints a captain to share out (in one minute) each small team’s takeaways. 

Embrace a Growth Mindset

Even after we’re back to working in offices, we know our ways of working will have forever been transformed. We want our whole team comfortable with leading remote teams and work. We figure the coming weeks are the perfect time to upskill our team and build, test, and learn on our remote approaches and new-to-us tools. We know this means we won’t always get it right and as such, our responsibility to our team is to give and receive feedback on what is working and what isn’t so we can keep getting better together.

To make sure we are capturing what we learn to improve our tools and approaches each day, we’ve appointed someone to “captain” the feedback by collecting and capturing it across the team. If people feel disengaged, they’re encouraged to think about why and share the feedback. If work sessions feel too clunky or hard to collaborate, the team calls it out and works to troubleshoot why. In just a week’s time, our meetings have gotten far more engaging, we’ve identified tips and tricks for what’s working, what’s not, and where we should be pivoting each day. 

Lead with Courage 

The most incredible entrepreneurs lead boldly with courage and we are always pushing ourselves and our clients to do this. In a new reality that has us 100% remote, that means finding ways to make each other smile in meetings (e.g., fun hats, or tropical backgrounds). 

Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t, but as with everything we do, our commitment to ourselves and each other in these times of uncertainty is to lead with courage whether its exploring new tools to test drive with our team and clients, or pivoting the work we do. While there is a lot that is uncertain and scary right now, we also know these are the times that, when we lean in and lead with courage, we can create a bold, bright new reality. 

We’re learning more every day; just this week we ran a Jobs to be Done Work session virtually with a Financial Services team and began our own internal team strategy session leveraging some of the tools and tactics listed above. 

Every team’s journey through this process is different and we’re happy to share more of our thinking, pressure-test your approach, or talk about a specific challenge you’re working on solving in a virtual, entrepreneurial way. Email heather@thegaragegroup.com to start the conversation.

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