the company chart

Who do you talk to when your business has a primary staff of one? If you’re like me, you talk to friends who are entrepreneurs, to family, and (frankly) to anyone who shows any interest. But, in the end, there’s still only one person making all the decisions.

So I talk to myself.

Last week, the staff meeting got out of hand. The part of me that loves to invent systems and create art and take photos and make things beautiful kept getting up and leaving the discussion to do things like make index card decks of ideas and amble to the cemetery on a photo safari.

The part of me that’s eager to finish the new e-course kept trying to shut everyone else up so the final editing could be done in peace and the technical checklist could be tackled.

The part of me that parents all the other parts kept shouting for everyone to work together, please!, but then finally put her head down on the desk and wished for a job that’s less like a circus and more like a cloister garden.

And then, for a blessed moment (maybe all my parts exhaled at exactly the same time), we, I mean I, remembered a long-ago advisor’s suggestion to create a traditional company roles chart, even if I’m the one doing everything.

The chart I made is not altogether traditional, but it’s simple and it works for my brain.

  • The Chief Creative Officer (CCO) is in charge of right-brain activities, like playing and creating.
  • The Chief Operations Officer (COO) is in charge of left-brain activities, like finishing and disciplined action.
  • The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is in charge of whole-brain coordination, like vision and deciding.

I made this graphic to help myself picture it. Maybe it will help you, too (click it to enlarge):

I’ve had this diagram within view at my desk for a week now, and the staff meetings have become increasingly civilized. Everyone has their own area of expertise. Everyone gets to shine. Everyone gets to rule, but also knows when to abdicate.

Conversations with myself about my business and how I spend my time have taken on a degree of fairness and clarity that was elusive before. If one part of me is at a loss, another part usually knows what to do. And now I have a fun way to ask the different parts of myself for help.

  • Solve the process glitch? Ask the CCO.
  • Time management? Let the CEO figure it out.
  • Empty the wastepaper bin? Order the COO to do it. (Oops. The CCO possessed me for a moment.)
  • Finish an article? The COO will take care of it.
  • Is the COO overwhelmed? Ask the CEO and the CCO for help.

So. We’ve planned a staff party this weekend to celebrate. Someone will let their hair down and embarrass themselves. It’ll probably be me. I won’t mind, though, because I’ll be among kindly cohorts who won’t hold it against me on Monday morning.

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4 comments to the company chart

  • Love this, Grace! I am having the same kinds of meetings all the time!

  • lyzspring

    Love the chart! I’m going to give it a try at my house, but first: what is meant by “traction steward”? The rest I get.

    • Thank you. “Traction steward” means that one of the roles of the CEO is to focus on and make sure the business is moving forward. “Traction” is about going somewhere. So, not only creating (right brain in a rut) and not only doing without being effective (left brain in a rut). Does that make it more understandable?