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Lead or Follow

One difficulty of family gatherings is a lack of hierarchy. As a kid we would go to my dad’s mother’s house for Thanksgiving. She made the turkey and the rest of the family filled in the sides. She also made the rules for the house, they were good for grandkids, and everyone toed the line. Different holidays had different hierarchys.

The importance of leading and following was clear after a friend griped about his family’s trip to Disney World. They had a good, but not great time. That’s too bad becuase Disney survives on great times. Part-of-the-reason for the family failure was followers not following.

One person wanted the group (of fourteen people!) to stay together all day. One group wanted to go do their own thing. One nuclear family had reservations because they planned ahead, a crucial part of a successful Disney vacation, while other families did not

I was reminded of cryptocurrencies.

Depending on the structure (proof of stake, proof of work, etc), a cryptocurrency can fork the code. Participants choose which version to use. Asking then, are you willing to lead a new direction or obiently follow this one can be a helpfu way to better corrdinate many different people.

  • When my sister-in-law visited Disney with my family, she followed along, and because our kids have similar interests everyone got along.
  • When I made dinner one night my oldest daughter didn’t want it, so she made a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.
  • When my mother-in-law joined my family on a trip she followed along, except for a day horseback riding and she planned her own excursion.

I think these are family examples because family lacks the lead/follow structure. Good organizations tend to ‘argue zell’ but after that comes the follow part. Ted Sarandos explained the Netflix way to Marc Andreessen, this way:

“It’s all credit to Reed. Reed created a culture where you’re free to ask questions, you’re free to push back – but support the outcome. Everyone has a strong voice at the table but once the decision is made everyone supports the outcome.”

Ted Sarandos

Leaders have to offer expertise on the task at hand and be willing for their followers to “fork”. Followers trade freedom for optimization. Lead or follow. Leaders walk the walk, followers don’t talk.

A Disney turkey leg and the lunch where this idea was discussed.