There is a method to my madness…


Dear team

Success in business comes from having the right people with the right skill set in the right job at the right time for the business problem that exists. Thus, when you have someone not doing their job properly, there can only be three reasons for it:

  1. The person either can’t do it (not capable);
  2. Won’t do it (not motivated); or
  3. Is doing the wrong thing (no clear direction and focus).  


1) CAN’T DO: As I mentioned in my previous email to you – I strongly believe all of you are A-Players, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. Just to clarify – an A Player is an employee (and in case of Splento – also a photographer, videographer and/or photo editor) who has at least a 90 percent chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only the top 10 percent of possible candidates could achieve. So we have this one sorted – you are all mightily capable of doing your jobs.

2) WON’T DO: Undoubtedly, as a fledgling startup without millions in our bank account, no dedicated HR department, no corporate trips to Las Vegas and no free beer on tap (and a CEO who prefers running to work and back instead of going to after-work drinking at a nearby pub to boot) – we may have a bit of a challenge on our shoulders with motivation. But every single one of you has a unique (and perhaps, once in a lifetime) opportunity to be part of building the world’s leading visual content on-demand brand!

Just look what we have achieved already without funding. You have built a service that is many times better than what our competitors across the Channel have done with $65mln!!! You should be proud of yourselves!

Furthermore, you have an opportunity to grow professionally and personally. Anyone can go for a run on a Sunday morning (i.e. working for themselves or an your average company). Only a few lucky have what it takes to train with the elite Kenyan athletes (i.e. working for Google & Facebook). But the real heroes are people like yourselves who go out and train every day, push themselves to the limit and achieve amazing results on their own, without support structure, resources, best mentors and coaches in the world and cushy pay (i.e. build startups into world-leading brands). Look at Splento as your lucky chance to leave a dent in the Visual Content Universe.

3) DOING THE WRONG THING: Clarity of direction and laser-focus – that’s the hardest part! You can have the best team in place and have Tony Robbins motivating this team, but if the various team-members are heading in opposite directions – good luck with that!

This is WHY I’m so particular (I know, I know –  the word most of you are using is probably anal) about our OKRs, Weekly Status Reports and Position Agreements:

a) OKRs – I know they are hard, I know they can be confusing, but stick with me. We’ll figure it all out together. But please understand a simple notion – if you don’t know where you are going you won’t get there. OKRs help organisations:

    • focus and commit to priorities;
    • align for teamwork;
    • become relentlessly accountable;
    • religiously track progress;
    • work smart and stretch beyond what’s considered possible.

And that is exactly what we need, so please read and re-read Radical Focus & Measure What Matters and all the links on OKR’s I’ve sent you and let’s work on it together. Please, have a look at our TEAM DASHBOARD spreadsheet: OKR’s TAB. You will see mine. You will see Eugene’s. We have drafted yours to help you, but the final OKR needs to come from you. You know better than I do where you want to go and how will you pace yourself to see if you are getting there?

b) Weekly Status Reports – reports are a medium of self-discipline first and foremost, not just a way to communicate information. One of my biggest recent WOW moments was the process of preparing our proper Board Pack. There is nothing in it that is extraordinary – it’s our daily routine summed up on a few pages. But the whole experience of preparing it structured my thoughts like nothing else has before. Writing reports is a lot more important than reading it.

c) Position Agreements – most companies have Job Descriptions – we don’t have them. We have Position Agreements (some call them Scorecards) for a reason.  Job Descriptions focus on what you will be doing (calling customers, selling, posting to social media). Position Agreements are great, because they focus on outcomes – what must get done (onboard 10 A-Player photographers in City X by year end, keep TrustPilot Rating at 9.7 and NPS score at 70+). Do you see the difference?

I look forward to regular updates from you.

Kind regards,

Roman Grigoriev

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