We seek feedback to get to the best idea, not to create agreement or consensus. We believe consensus creates average ideas, average speed, and average results. We don’t vote on ideas or decisions. The best idea will never sound like the best idea to everyone, so we validate with the customer instead of committees.
Moving forward without consensus feels uncomfortable – that’s why we work in small, distributed teams that make it happen as naturally as possible. Every project and task has a directly responsible individual (DRI) who owns decisions and values the best idea over social cohesion.
If you’re seeking feedback, don’t let disagreement slow down progress. If you’re giving feedback, trust the DRI to make the best-informed decision. If you feel like the team is driving toward consensus, speak up and keep each other accountable. It’s better to let the customer tell us an idea is wrong today than to win consensus and find out it’s wrong next week. Seeking feedback over consensus frees up everyone to move quickly and avoid red tape.
“How do you handle internal communication?”
We get asked this question all the time.
Internal comms is one of the few things that can have a huge impact on everyone at a company. There’s an infinite number of channels competing for our attention. It can be a lot. It can get overwhelming. And (I think we all know this) over-communication can slow things down.
No one wants that. So we try to be mindful of what and how we’re communicating. If it’s urgent, by all means we’ll use synchronous (real time) messages to communicate. But if it’s not urgent, we’ll send asynchronous (non-real time) messages, like email and audio and video messages. And let’s not forget conversations that take place face-to-face or over the phone – these are not only effective, but they also help cut through the noise.
There’s a few other strategies we have in place for effective communication at Drift. We limit meetings, show our work, and give teams and individuals full autonomy over what they work on. In other words, we seek feedback, not consensus.
How we do it: We make as few people in charge of decisions as possible – in most cases, just one person. We pick a directly responsible individual (DRI) and give them the autonomy to make that decision. A group of people can offer their feedback; suggestions, ideas, tweaks, but the DRI decides which add value and then makes the call. Then they move forward.
Don’t get us wrong… it’s important to get team input. That’s where the feedback element comes in. While only the owner is close enough to the customer to make the ultimate call, we do bring other points of view into the loop.
Yes, the perspectives of your colleagues are valuable. But they are just pieces of the greater puzzle. 10x ideas – the ones that really move the company forward – are the ones that can’t be created through consensus.
So, trust your instincts. Others may disagree, but if you’ve given your decision the thought and analysis it deserves, you can be confident in your action – no matter the outcome.