A large project like the Sailing Science Center will never reach its final vision without a tremendous amount of teamwork and partnership. This is why I have devoted so much of my energy on this project to finding the right people, creating the right culture and building the right systems for us to work together synchronously and harmoniously. It is a fact that one is too small a number for significance, and that all truly great human accomplishments have involved teams and partnerships.
Great teams start with great people. It’s also a fact that a team cannot move any faster than its slowest member. Think about it: if a company is rolling out a new product and the marketing department isn’t ready, or the packaging isn’t ready, those team members are setting the speed for the entire team. This is why one of my top values is responsiveness – which I define as the ability to respond in a timely manner to communications.
When I send a communication, whether an email, a voice message or a text, I imagine it like I’m hitting a tennis ball over the net. If the ball doesn’t come back and I have to walk around the net, pick it up and hit it over again, the game’s not going anywhere. Now, we all miss the ball from time to time, especially when there are 15 of them flying at us from different directions at the same time, but the best team members are the ones who are the best at keeping all the balls in play.
To do their best, team members also need to be in the right positions, and they need to stay in position. It doesn’t make any sense to have a marketing director reviewing legal copy or to have a bookkeeper doing sales, assuming those team members were in the right place to begin with. Getting these things right is challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding when the team comes together and things start to happen, as they have on this project.
I also want to say a few words about partners. Partners are much like team members and are just as necessary. Partners all have their place and their function. On the SSC project, for example, the City of San Francisco and the Master Developer for Treasure Island are two essential partners. The project cannot be done according to our current vision without them. So, these relationships have to be developed, and our own integrity and ability has to be proven. I wouldn’t expect otherwise.
Indeed, all of this is challenging, but it’s largely the challenge that makes it worthwhile. As Jim Collins says, we need to get the right people on the bus and to get those people in the right seats on the bus. It sounds easy enough, but to do this you have to know what seats have to be filled and what the people look like who should fill those seats. Well, the seats are filling and this bus is about to take off!