March Memo - The Brutal End of Q1

March Memo - The Brutal End of Q1

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Maxwell Ryan
Feb 19, 2018

Dear Team,

We are one week away from the end of our first quarter of 2018. Our collective objective these past three months was to get ahead fast, to jumpstart the year and make key changes that would be valuable investments in the rest of our year: Product embarked on rebuilding our publishing system. Both AT and KT zeroed in on tailoring content specifically to each distribution channel. Ops worked hard to revamp our IO process and fully integrate Salesforce.The list goes on. In many ways we have succeeded, and, yes, everyone has stayed focused and gotten many things done. And right now our collective confidence against our objectives this winter, as recorded by you, is quite high:

  • 10 - Direct Sales
  • 9 - C Studio
  • 9 - IMarketing
  • 9 - Rev Ops
  • 9 - HR
  • 9 - Aud Dev
  • 8.5 - Video
  • 7.5 - AT - Ed
  • 7 - Art
  • 7 - Ad Ops
  • 7 - Kitchn - Ed
  • 6.5 - Finance
  • 6 - Ops
  • 4.5 - Product

7.8 - Collective

But at the same time we've continued to battle really strong audience referral forces, knocking us down 10-15% below goal, AND our direct sales is 44% off Q1 goal, which is shocking. These numbers, above all, affect the company deeply and lend an air of urgency to everything we do right now. So, I have to ask, aside from our Q1 Objectives, is our collective confidence really a 7.8? Or another way of asking this is, is it all working the way we intended?

My objective this quarter was to establish organizational clarity and mission in the form of a three year plan to be released this week. While I felt we truly finished the past year on a high note, these first three months have revealed cracks in our organization that are holding us back and causing stress and friction between departments. These things need to be dealt with first, and this next quarter will require a collective focus and greater performance.

Everyone can be helpful in this as we go through our Q2 OKR process.

I know that many of you are skeptical of this process and may regard it as busy work, but I believe that is only true if it is not aligned with what is most important in our work together. It is our collective steering wheel and, when done properly, it holds us together, keeps reporting lines open, and sets a target that everyone can see. It has made a significant difference in how we work over the past year and a half. It has helped us this quarter, and it has also exposed a disconnect between our OKRs and our business fundamentals.

These next two weeks we'll run the process for the seventh time. It's going to be very simple. I want all employees to submit the one objective they think the company should pursue this next quarter by this time tomorrow. I want to hear what each of you think and I want all the department heads to hear it too. Executive Council will read through them Tuesday. Wednesday morning we will gather to go through, choose one company objective and set the KR's for the quarter.

Q2 Objective Survey - due Tuesday, 11am

Our Objective this quarter is absolutely urgent and will be super clear to everyone. Then it will be all hands on deck as every department flies into action. My job, along with the Executive Council, will be to make sure that each and every structural flaw and stress point is addressed.

Finally, I want to end on a high note. Despite the challenges we face, we are two of the very few organically grown, large scale brands that connect with an important millenial market and offer real editorial value. We help make lives better every day. We own the home in a way no one else does. And we're dominant at a time when most other companies fail to get here or burn through a lot of cash trying.

There is a lot to celebrate, but right now we've got some work to do.

Best, M

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