Always Be Learning
As anyone with even a fleeting interest in sales knows, the great scene of Alec Baldwin’s career boils down to the axiom ABC: “Always be Closing.” And as anyone who watched Glengarry Glen Ross to its conclusion also knows, such thinking, unchecked, leads to grand larceny, alcoholism, and general decay of the moral structure. Are we to understand that Mr Baldwin’s advice is of no value? Not necessarily.
At Switchyard we’re keenly aware of how quickly technologies and philosophies change. An important part of our mission is to test new ideas — whether through conversation or internal projects or collaboration — so we can quickly understand what works for us, and what we can safely remove from our radar.
Hence our adjustment of Always be Closing into Always be Learning.
ABL is about speed. Take for example the proliferation of invoicing software available for small companies such as ours. We did our research, we made a software choice, and we gave our chosen software a run for its money. We tested every use case we could predict. And the software failed to meet expectations. (The details re. what software we chose don’t matter, but the process does.) So we decided to take what we’d learned and go back to the start. Research. Select. Test. Decide. We went through two failed applications before settling where we are now, and while we’d like to have gotten it right the first time, at least we moved quickly. We kept our standards high and our leash short. In essence, we learned about our choices every day.
The same is true of our internal processes. Each of the three Switchyard founders brought different ideas to how (and when) we’d communicate about ongoing projects, or how the sales workflow ought to look. So we listened to each other, constructed a process based on the best ideas from each of our backgrounds, and built in time for retrospection. Let’s call those times “meta-meetings.” On the surface that approach may seem counter to the current zeitgeist (as encapsulated by the 37 Signals books and the sense that any meeting is a pointless meeting), but we think the essence is the same: clarify your goals, find what seems the best solution available, and don’t waste time hemming and hawing.