Ryan Collier is the Chief Digital Officer of RPS Inc, and he wants to challenge you on the word "entrepreneur." He might work for a company with over 1,000 employees, but entrepreneurship is something he believes that everyone should embrace, regardless of your company size.
It's why he calls himself an entrepreneur within his company. His goal is to create a company culture where team members challenge everything.
When I walked into Collier's office, he had an Android based BlackBerry on his desk. I honestly thought BlackBerry stopped making phones.
I jokingly asked if he was donating historical items to the museum. Well, it turns out, he uses this BlackBerry every day as his primary phone.
The first thought that came to my mind is "why would someone in charge of innovation be using a device that signifies lack of growth. Doesn't he realize what this says about him?"
It turns out he had a great explanation.
"A long time ago, I was the first person in my company to get a million dollars in net new sales in a single year. The primary reason I was able to reach this goal was because of my BlackBerry. It allowed me to offer better customer service than any other sales agent. I was available 24/7 for my clients. I felt like an entrepreneur within my own company."
An entrepreneurship culture for companies is underrated. I truly believe if more companies embraced entrepreneurship within their companies, they would see better results.
Here are a few things that Collier says are important when building something disruptive.
They challenge every friction.
"Friction is the kiss of death for any big company, but yet, they keep embracing it. True entrepreneurs are looking to remove the frictions and make it as easy as possible for their customers, " says Collier.
When I was a consultant for large companies, I had a rule: Challenge every friction. The second rule was to keep challenging every friction until I got my hand slapped.
Some clients embraced my challenges.
Others hated it and demanded it to be stopped immediately.
Do you know what's interesting? Every client that allowed me to challenge every friction was a success by every metric measurement.
The ones that slapped my wrist and told me to stop, suffered from major office politics and project delays. Every step of the way, the project was delayed regardless of what I did to move it forward. I eventually just stepped back and didn't speak up.
It was disheartening for me knowing that I couldn't make the impact I wanted to make because of all the friction.
I'm not a big fan of motivational or entrepreneurship quotes, but in Collier's office there was a quote I couldn't ignore:
To innovate, your employees need permission to reduce as much friction as possible. Get out of their way and let them find the innovation.
They power through roadblocks.
"I think my IT guy hates me for having a BlackBerry. It's another device he has to support. But, the reality is that I never asked for permission because I knew this device works for me. I do better work with my BlackBerry, plain and simple, " says Collier.
If Uber asked for permission from taxi companies, Uber would have never existed.
At a previous company I was an employee of, my manager gave me permission to not ask for permission. It allowed me to do great work and most importantly, I wasn't micromanaged.
It made a huge impact on our group and our business overall.
Permission is overrated and most of the time, it will get you nowhere.
They stand up for what they believe in.
One of the best quotes I read recently about being outspoken:
Leaders always underestimate how often they need to repeat things to keep everyone on the same page and motivated toward the same goals. Find opportunities to repeat yourself:-- First Round (@firstround) March 3, 2018
Groupthink is prevalent in many organizations big and small. This happens when no one wants to say anything to disrupt the conversation, but what ends up happening is nobody gets what they want.
I've learned to be selectively outspoken in meetings. When I truly believe that something is done wrong, I speak up. If it's a topic that I don't care about much, or I don't think will create a huge impact, I keep my mouth shut. This helps me build a reputation of someone who speaks up only for important items.
Ryan closed our meeting with a great quote: "You have to believe in what you're saying and challenge everything and everyone around you. The most expensive words are when someone says 'It's always been done that way.'"