Loose Change

It’s been said that we like to operate without rules at JEO. While there is some truth in this, and it likely evolved from my own comments, it is a bit of an overstatement. A fairer representation is that we set expectations and value results more than processes.

What do those expectations look like?  They are pretty simple. Everything we do should be with the goal of achieving employee happiness, client satisfaction, and firm profitability, all the while maintaining and growing JEO’s reputation for doing things the right way. And, each individual, team, and department has expectations regarding things such as revenue generation and project tasks.

Long-term sustainability is only possible when we each do our part to meet these expectations consistently. Using employee happiness, client satisfaction, firm profitability, and furthering JEO’s reputation as the four standards for our firm, achieving only three of the four is a recipe for disaster. It is imperative for our future that we consistently deliver on each of these items, but how we achieve them is of little importance to me.

Think of eating at a fast-food restaurant versus dining at a five-star restaurant. At a fast-food restaurant, I expect my experience to be driven by their process. At a five-star restaurant, I expect my experience to be driven by my desires. I want the expectations of JEO employees and clients alike to be driven by needs and desires, not a predetermined process.

Warren Buffet once said, “Charlie Munger, our Vice Chairman, and I really have only two jobs. One is to attract and keep outstanding managers to run our various operations… our main contribution has been to not get in their way. This approach seems elementary: if my job were to manage a golf team – and if Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer were willing to play for me – neither would get a lot of directives from me about how to swing.”

While the context may be different, the message is the same: hire good people and trust them to get the job done. We have smart, ethical people at JEO; people with worlds of experience; people with passion for clients and each other; people that work best when given the opportunity to act as they see fit, rather than trying to recall what a policy manual says.

Some people have asked if this approach can work in a detail-oriented profession and with our plan for growth. It has worked so far, and I promise I will do everything in my power to make sure that it continues to in the future!