It was really nice to share a management offsite with another company (this probably wouldn’t work for our full teams but in a smaller group it made sense). Attendees from both companies came from business, product, engineering and finance, which provided a good cross section of perspectives.
Sharing the time meant that we could brainstorm on the key projects we work on together, such as the rollout for Monoprix in France, but also liven up the activities with colleagues who we don’t get to see as much as we would like.
As for the Stuart team’s time together, it’s a bit of a cliché, but getting out of the office was essential. Changing our physical space, leaving the laptops aside, breathing fresh air, looking out over the scenery of a gorgeous, remote national park all helped change our perspective.
A glass or two of wine during our chats didn’t hurt either! The result was an open approach and communal mindset towards tackling big challenges together.
Building on that backdrop, I really appreciated the structure that Damien, our CEO, put in place for the chats. We broke our sessions up into three parts:
- Our goals for the rest of 2019,
- Intangible topics including mission, vision, teamwork and collaboration, and,
- Big bets for the future.
(1) The first category of topics is something we can (and have!) discussed in regular weekly meetings, but not as often as we’d like because our product and engineering teams have spent the bulk of their time and resources over the past 12 months building a new architecture from scratch. This work has been essential to our long term strategy, and I am not kidding when I say that upon full rollout this summer Stuart will have the most advanced dispatch of any last mile delivery in the world (more posts to follow on this!). But managing and delivering on a project so large of course comes with costs, most notably putting other important product developments on hold.
So with delivery (pun fully intended :)) of the new architecture in sight, talking about the next six months was a great opportunity to think about how we prioritise all of the additional exciting features in the roadmap. We’ve short listed a bunch with prioritisation to come in the next few weeks.
(2) Intangibles were the second topic, and the one which we spent the most time on. We had to admit to ourselves that in the rush to execute and with the daily pressures that come from growing the business from 5m€ to 120m€+ in the past 2.5 years, we have not done a good job of linking what we do every day back to Stuart’s overarching mission: logistics for a sustainable world.
As a result, our teams can lose sight of the bigger picture, which leads to lack of engagement and focus. Our CTO Lachy used a simple but perfect metaphor to help illustrate how we overcome this challenge: by describing KPIs, milestones, achievements and failures as steps on a path towards that ultimate mission everyone in the team will know where we are, where we’re going and how we plan to get there. It’s ok if we make mistakes, it’s ok if we update plans, and of course it’s ok to celebrate achievements and grapple with roadblocks. But all of those steps, positive and negative, have to be part of a larger journey.
Our commitment coming out of these sessions is to relaunch the Stuart mission and vision with our teams and, more importantly, make it a regular part of everything we do.
(3) Finally the big bets: if someone gave us 100m€ tomorrow, what we would do with it? Side note: this doesn’t have to be a hypothetical exercise if anyone wants to throw in an extra hundred mil our way!!! Some ideas were extensions of what we already know are key topics — world class hub management to facilitate the use of green fleets in cities — and other ideas were wild, such as global hyperloops (go Dimitri!). It was a valuable exercise because we stopped thinking only about the day-to-day and did a bit of dreaming.
Most importantly, we came back from the offsite refreshed, excited to complete our big platform migration, and ready to continue building an ecosystem that will radically change how cities and their citizens live in the decades to come.