Thoughts on 2019: A Message from BRCK’s COO

The title of this blogpost was supposed to be “A Day at BRCK”. But there is no typical day at BRCK and it’s interesting to think about this at the end of the year and look back at what a culmination of days has looked like and meant to me.

Thoughts on 2019

As the COO of BRCK, my job is to take our company strategy and operationalize its execution. That often feels like rolling 10,000 marbles from one side of the table to the other. I’m constantly looking for ways to make “self-driving marbles”, always watching out for marbles that look like they’re about to fall off the table, or are going in the wrong or opposite direction, or moving too slowly, or have stopped altogether. 

 

I also have to pay attention to the bumps and failures that lead us to better, smoother, paths. A good tool we have for dealing with these are “blameless post mortems”: what can we learn from this failure, mistake, blooper, etc.? What can we do to avoid it ever happening again? Sometimes it’s filling the hole in the table, other times it requires all the marbles to go around that hole.

 

Either way, this year has taught me that small steps lead to big accomplishments. Interestingly, some of the most important work I’ve done in 2019 has not felt like the “work” itself. It’s been about untangling human conflicts, assumptions, and misunderstandings. It’s been about documenting crystal clear processes for people to follow, putting in writing objective expectations we have of one another. I’ve become hyper aware of the impact words and small actions can have on those around us. I see the snowballed negative impacts of people speaking and acting from spaces of insecurity, resentment, or self-righteousness. The negative impact these words and actions have on the people saying/doing them themselves and also on others. These words and actions, when we’re not careful, quickly become our habits and personalities. 

 

On the other side of that spectrum, seeing people speak and act from spaces of confidence, empathy, and a commitment to learning has brought about some of the biggest personal and organizational transformations. It’s in these examples that marbles became self-powered, self-directing drones!

 

The problem I’ve chosen to solve for this year is meaningful connectivity. Connectivity between people sharing ideas, thoughts, resources, experiences, etc. I’ve been thinking about this deeply on two levels:

 

  1. How does the BRCK team connect with each other? How does communication between team members make or break our strategy? I’ve encouraged and created tools for team members to have respectful, meaningful meetings with people they don’t agree with or understand.
  2. How does BRCK enable our end users to connect meaningfully? The internet is the largest, greatest network of knowledge and information. How can Moja users leverage their connectivity to meaningful change their lives? I’ve worked on a partnership to develop a digital literacy platform that helps users understand how technology affects our bodies and brains.

 

Thoughts on 2019

By executing against small tasks, I create a thread of “meaningful connections” to look back on. I have set the stage for what next year will look like for me – 2020, the year of clarity and focus. I have a clear intention to focus on being of service to the people and organizations we work for – the commuter on a matatu, the makanga, the driver, the marketing manager leading a campaign, the investor, the team member at BRCK.

Although we are not an “impact-driven social enterprise”, somehow, with this narrative of meaningful connectivity, we have an inbuilt purpose in our organization. And I hope that the purpose will live beyond our time here by constantly ensuring we are doing right by our end-users, our customers, our partners, our investors, and most importantly, our team; by working towards making all these people truly feel like family.