The pursuit of skill and pace

By November 6, 2017Forward Partners

Here at Forward Partners we are going through a process of rethinking our values. We have historically had seven, but found that was too many to consistently remember and action, so we recently consolidated it down to four:

  • We execute with skill and pace
  • We get better every time
  • We play the game differently
  • We enjoy the journey

The next step in our process is to flesh out what these mean in a bit more detail. I’ve been thinking about our ‘skill and pace’ value in particular. This is one that was part of the seven, so we’ve had it for a while. We adopted the value originally because we were having problems balancing speed and quality. We were getting conflict between team members who wanted to move fast and those who were concerned that we were compromising too much on quality. Most often this was when we were deciding whether to release products or launch services when bug testing had been done, but not done to death, and before the full suite of unit tests had been written. We realised that we didn’t have a language to discuss the trade-off between speed and quality and so introduced the ‘skill and pace’ value so we could repeatedly ask ourselves if we had the balance right.

As I’ve been mulling over it some more it’s becoming clear to me that another aspect of executing with skill and pace is being comfortable with both the big picture and the detail. The big picture gives you ambition, the need to move quickly and ensures you are on a worthwhile path. The detail is key to hitting your short-term goals and is what enables you to move at speed.

Conversely, people who prefer to live only in the big picture can be insufficiently practical and people who are only comfortable in the detail can find it hard to see past short-term obstacles.

  • Robert Grieg-Gran

    Hi Nic, thanks for the post. Was it a conscious decision not to include any values about how you treat third parties (particularly given FP’s admirable practice of openly sharing knowledge with entrepreneurs)?

    We are documenting our company values as part of our transition to a B-Corp. It is still a work in progress, but currently they revolve around what we stand for (“integrity, putting customers first, being loyal to suppliers, giving back, etc”) as opposed to how we approach problems as an organisation. This post has given food for thought!

    Thanks in advance,

    Mindful Chef

  • Hi Robert – very sorry to be slow to reply, and that’s a great question. The answer is no, not really. When we had a longer list of values one of them was “Be our companies’ number one choice” which says something about how we want to relate to third parties, but doesn’t go that far.

    Thinking it through now, delivering amazing help to the founders we back and doing the right thing by the startup ecosystem generally is so core to our mission and how we approach our work that it’s kind of assumed that executing with skill and pace (particularly skill) means treating third parties well. Not treating them well hasn’t come up as an issue.

    You’re making me wonder if we have an implicit value around respect that we aren’t calling out.

    Thanks for the thought provoking comment.