Fabian Pfortmüller on How to Run Projects Using Culture and Process

In Chapter 11 of 15 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, community builder and entrepreneur Fabian Pfortmüller answers "How Do You Balance Experimentation and Commitment in the Projects You Pursue?"  Pfortmüller answers the question in the context of process and culture and how both are relevant to project planning, team building and problem solving.  Pfortmüller is co-founder of the young leader accelerator, Sandbox Network, and HOLSTEE, an apparel and design firm that sells meaningful products to mindful shoppers.  Pfortmüller graduated from Columbia University and its school of General Studies. 


Erik Michielsen: How do you balance experimentation and commitment in the projects that you pursue?

Fabian Pfortmüller: I would answer that question with two buckets. On the one hand, I think it’s about process and on the other hand it’s about culture. I believe it’s all about having very clear processes when you run any project. We’re learning every day about project management, we’re learning about setting goals, we’re learning about, you know, making sure those deadlines are met and finding structures how we feel comfortable that we can really plan out projects in quite a lot detail but at the same time building the culture to be super free and how we wanna solve that problem.

Once we clearly define the problem, there should not be a required way to get there and I think culture is one of the key elements that allows people to think freely and that’s just something that we’re trying to tell ourselves but also the people we work with. No matter how you get there, it doesn’t matter. It’s just about the goal, and the crazier ideas, the better.

We at HOLSTEE for example have a 10% rule, a little bit like Google’s 20% rule but 10% where we just encourage people to work on whatever they want and something that they are passionate about, something where they believe they can have impact and I think that openness and that freedom in, you know, going no matter where as long as they’re creating something valuable is super important for any organization.