Member Spotlight: Chris Sponiar

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Describe an event or experience that defines you as an Operator:
I don’t know if there’s a single event or experience I can refer to – it’s more that I generally nerd out on making things work more efficiently and effectively. I love being able to measure things, understand granular (and simple) root causes and drivers, take action, and see improvement. This might include initiatives to hit business goals (e.g. reducing shipping costs), or just ways of working (e.g. building or introducing tooling that can eliminate manual steps and thus potential for human error). I do have a bit of a thing for tooling.

A time when OG offered value:
I had HUGE help from the OG Group during our recent shipping carrier negotiations at Maisonette. This isn’t an exercise we’d done in great detail before, and our team didn’t have a deep background in carrier negotiation. Through OG, I connected with a bunch of operators who’d been through this exercise many times before – their advice completely changed our negotiation approach, and also led us to adopt reporting tech that has been integrated into our day to day.

Top actionable tools or processes:
Probably the most valuable advice I ever received in my career was during my first consulting project – my job manager told me “if it’s not simple, you’re doing it wrong”. The most effective and impressive founders and leaders I’ve seen are those who can distill problems and solutions into very simple frameworks and stories, such that anyone in the organization can understand them and think “I get that”.

Being that I love tools, I also have to throw a few in that have made a tangible impact on our org.

  • Fellow (agenda and action tracker for meetings). These days, my rule going into a TB or meeting is “if it’s not in Fellow, we’re not talking about it”. Helps everyone to make good use of meeting time.
  • Pingboard (dynamic org chart). Easily updatable by managers and has finally alleviated the “can we see a company org chart? who reports to who?” questions.
  • PandaDoc (contract/document management). Has enabled us to move away from a crappy system of storing signed documents (e.g. supplier agreements, NDAs) in random Google Drive or Dropbox folders, and removed the manual steps of our team adding contract terms to Google Sheets.

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