Old Guard vs New Guard
I’ve felt this before but haven’t heard it explained this well. Choice quotes from Michael Lopp’s article:
The organization of the Old Guard is instinctively flat. There is rapid and organic error correction because everyone has line of sight on everything. The cost of gathering situational awareness is low because the Old Guard has borderline mystical abilities to figure things out. This is because they’ve got a near-complete mental catalog of the people, their knowledge, and their abilities.
The Old Guard has recognized experience, but more importantly, each day the Old Guard demonstrates to the New Guard that they have instinct. They can rapidly make important decisions with the barest of facts and they have a sense of urgency motivated by their deeply rooted belief that this is the home that they built with their hands and, again, they believe this precious thing could be destroyed in a moment.
In order to build a healthy company that scales, you’re going to need to build infrastructure and process that is going to connect the various parts of your company. This work is going to feel heavy and unnecessary to those who’ve historically been able to do this work effortlessly and instinctively.
The Old Guard is the cultural bellwether of the company. I believe that culture is a slippery thing to fully define, but I do believe it is the responsibility of the Old Guard to not only take the time to define the key values that are the pillars of that culture, to communicate the nuance of those values over and over again, and, lastly, when it becomes apparent they are no longer serving the company, they must be willing to let those values evolve.
I’m probably going to be Old Guard, somewhere, at some point in my life, and I’ll try to remember all this.