This is the fourth and final post in a series about Atomic’s co-CEO model that Mike Marsiglia and I started working in during 2019. We are openly sharing our experience to help others who might be considering a similar model.
I’ve previously talked about the rationale behind our decision, the structure we put together, and our communication flow. Today I’ll share what my experience has been like working in this new system.
I’m continuing to enjoy working in Atomic’s co-CEO model with Mike. It’s been especially rewarding during this year of challenge and change, driven by COVID-19. I’m grateful we’ve also been able to grow, learn, and pursue opportunities this year too. Our partnership bolsters our resilience and optimism.
I believe our partnership is working because we are both committed to each other and the co-CEO model. This model wouldn’t work if one of us was focused on being the “better” co-CEO.
Trust and respect are at the foundation of our relationship. This has allowed us to effectively apply a divide and conquer strategy for some of our work. Being able to lead some work independently has been a source of energy and freedom in the job.
I appreciate having someone in a common position that will challenge me and provide authentic feedback on my work and working style. This type of feedback is rare and valuable. Others might hold back with authentic feedback due to a power dynamic. Because we share a common responsibility, and we each want the other to be their best, we can respectfully challenge each other. This is a source of personal growth and also leads to better decisions and outcomes.
The previous posts in this series describe Carl’s transition into the executive board chairman job and how he serves to provide strategic input, feedback, and accountability to Mike and me.
The three of us have been working together for over fifteen years, and we continue to be flexible in how our jobs change and relationships evolve. Once again, trust and respect are at the foundation of our relationships. This allows for healthy discussion, better decisions, and better outcomes.
Having this additional accountability takes energy, but it’s worth it. The need for additional energy comes from the fact that, after leading and managing through all of the details in the organization, Mike and I also report (at a high level) to the smart, deeply engaged former CEO and founder of the company. It’s another meeting where we bring our A-game — where we have to be ready to explain things, be challenged, or creatively contribute to new ideas.
Over the past year, Carl has challenged me and Mike to take our work further or faster in certain areas than we would have otherwise. Acknowledging this reality proves the wisdom of our rationale and structure.
Carl has also been contributing strategic, execution capacity. For example, he’s been able to take on the special project of reviewing and updating Atomic’s valuation. We have a talented person who can take a dive deep into an area, become an expert, and then bring us up to speed and advise us.
We have discussed adding additional, external members to our board. This may increase the amount of energy given to board interactions but will also foster increased personal growth and likely drive a more interesting and successful future for Atomic.
Mike and I have been working in our current co-CEO model and self-implemented EOS structure for almost a year and a half. Overall, Atomic is healthy and functioning well.
Nevertheless, we are relentlessly dissatisfied with the status quo and are always striving to do better. There is some fine-tuning work clearly in front of us:
- We can see areas in our accountability chart that will become strained due to Atomic’s continued growth.
- We’ve become more collaborative and communicative across offices through the pandemic and should consider what changes should be kept or rolled back.
- We may be involved in too many meetings based on our current design of communication flow.
- We may want to reconsider whether more distinction between visionary and integrator roles would be beneficial.
- We are considering how to build in time for weekly and monthly time blocks for more review, reflection, and flow time for strategic projects.
We will continue to publish updates and experience reports on this blog related to the changes we make.
Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about our experience. Mike and I are also happy to share our experience through presentations, panel discussions, interviews, podcasts, etc. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
Atomic’s Co-CEO Model
- Atomic’s Co-CEO Model, Part 4 – The Lived Experience - December 3, 2020
- Atomic’s Co-CEO Model, Part 3 – Communication Flow - November 5, 2020
- Atomic’s Co-CEO Model, Part 2 – Structure - October 22, 2020
- Atomic’s Co-CEO Model, Part 1 – Rationale - October 8, 2020
- Keeping Sight of True North During a Crisis - May 4, 2020