At Blue Raven Solar, we have three values:
1. Develop a High-Trust Culture
2. Be Efficient
3. Continuously ImproveEach value is accompanied by four statements that try to capture what living this value means for us.
The first of these statements is 1a: Keep commitments to homeowners, sales reps, employees, installers, technicians, vendors, and investors. The second is 1b:
Close the loop – report back to each other.
We’ve all heard the philosophical thought experiment, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” (Basically, can something exist without being perceived by consciousness?) In our values orientation every few weeks, I ask our new hires why it matters so much that we tell somebody when we complete a task. Without fail, they struggle to articulate why it matters so much. And yet all of us have had the experience of following up on something only to find out that our request had indeed been completed -- but we were never notified. “Why didn’t you tell me!?” we exclaim! We observe that the perceived “open request” made a withdrawal from the trust bank account, sometimes subconsciously, even when the commitment was kept.
At Blue Raven Solar, we believe that closing the loop is just as important as keeping the commitment in the first place. In some cases, it is more important – especially if more context is required or somebody has learned more information. We also believe that closing the loop doesn’t necessarily have to be a human interaction; systems can close loops, too. But closed they must be.
For me personally, there have been many occasions where sending an extra email felt like “needless communication” until I viewed it from the lens of trust building. While I haven’t been perfect, value 1b has helped me improve my communication and guide our organization to build systems and processes that close loops instead of letting them remain open.
If making and keeping commitments is our foundation of trust, closing loops are our pillars.
We asked employees what they thought of value 1b. I love their responses.
I regularly receive emails that even say, 'just closing the loop on this' It really helps me trust others to own processes and reach out when they need updates or help.
I feel this is a staple at Blue Raven. I have incorporated this phrase so much in my life that I have started to use it at home. Install ops team is a great example of this.
Done. Best four-letter word.
I've seen and overheard how several employees in customer ops will come in for just 2-3 minutes on a day they're not scheduled to call back a customer and keep their promise. This is admirable.
In my department, it being so small, we constantly discuss what needs to be done, go do it, then come back and close the loop. Value 1B is pretty much what our process revolves around.
Anytime I ask to do something through email, I get a response of "done" once it has been taken care of. It eliminates the worry of it going unnoticed.
I think this is one of the few places I've worked that everyone both consistently emails, messages, calls, etc. when something is done, and the people on the receiving end of this communication are actually appreciative rather than feeling like their time is wasted. Love it.
One of the things I have noticed about Blue Raven is it builds a culture of keeping your commitment. One of the things that I love about the co-ops team is people will always send an email or a slack to let one know that they got the job done or followed up on it.
We are very good and keeping everyone in the loop (most of the time). When someone is involved in anything, that person gets updates and are included in multiple stages of the process, until the issue is resolved. This helps us understand the workings of every department very well.
When on the roof, we keep a flow of communication. As a step gets done, we inform one another so no one is doing double work.
I love seeing notes about how a coordinator looped back with a homeowner to close the loop on the status of their project. Shows me that we all care about keeping our customers informed and reassured.
Fortunately, my team is super great at keeping everyone in the loop via group text and group email. We also follow up in person to make sure everyone is on the same page.
When problems are identified, Blue Raven does a good job identifying whether the issue was a failure to close the loop. To me, that means I: freely take ownership, delegate when necessary, resolve the task one way or another, keep interested parties informed.
In proposals we always communicate together as a team when one of us has claimed a project before the other and report it so we don't do the same one twice to increase productivity.
Since I need to coordinate with so many different people on all of these different jobs/situations, closing the loop is huge to me and I know our customers love when they are constantly being updated.