Like most entrepreneurs, MaKara Rumley, Visionary and owner of Hummingbird saw a need and knew she had the specific skill sets to fill it. As an environmental justice attorney, MaKara noticed a communications gap between the companies/government agencies leading infrastructure projects and the communities impacted by the development.
“People in underrepresented communities felt like development projects were negatively impacting them,” she said. “And people in the organizations doing the work didn’t know how to communicate with people in these communities in a respectful way or in ways that resonated with them.”
Over the years, she’d had a firsthand look at what worked and what didn’t for community engagement and outreach, serving as a political appointee in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Along the way, she developed relationships with elected officials, engineers, and corporate representatives. They embraced her work and quickly referred projects to her that needed her expertise.
As a result, the firm grew quickly and experienced many of the growing pains small businesses face. For example, they had internal communication problems even as they strived to address communication gaps externally.
“We grew 400% during the pandemic and were busting at the seams with new clients, projects, and people,” MaKara said. “As we grew, it was vital to maintain the work quality, especially with federal contracts, where we needed the infrastructure in place to be compliant. But everything in the company felt so disconnected. ”
Hummingbird needed better collaboration, and at the same time, MaKara needed relief from the pressures of having everything flow through her. But she didn’t know how to get the team to know everything in her head.
MaKara heard about EOS® through different channels and realized her husband had a copy of Traction on his bedside table.
Hummingbird started Running on EOS™ in May 2021. Initially, MaKara tried to figure things out and self-implement, but she quickly realized she needed the help of a Professional EOS Implementer®.
“I’m an expert in environmental justice, not business,” she said. “We needed an EOS shaman to help us get a deeper understanding of EOS Tools and some things that weren’t as intuitive.”
MaKara found her shaman in Certified EOS Implementer® Shea Peffly. Among other things, Shea helped MaKara see the importance of having a system and documenting processes.
“Most of our people came from larger organizations that already had systems in place,” MaKara said. “Even something as simple as our SOP [standard operating procedure] needed to be created and housed somewhere.”
Despite using software to build out their handbooks, MaKara admitted that creating that documentation was an arduous, often painstaking process. But she knew it was necessary if she didn’t want to be the conductor for everything throughout her business.
In addition to not having to be part of every process, MaKara saw the value in creating written procedures in the sense that it gave security to her employees. She realized that most people are risk-averse and want stability. Having a handbook with everything in one place was what made her business more marketable to candidates.
“We had clients and workload for new people, but nothing was officially documented on how ‘the sausage was made,’” MaKara said. “Now it doesn’t look like we’re making things up on the fly. I can market us as ‘Come work for us; it’s safe here.’ Even though that seems kind of boring and lame, there’s safety in structure.”
Between documenting the processes and learning to Delegate and Elevate® to her newly appointed Integrator™, Denise Smith, MaKara accomplishes more goals. She can also clearly identify what those goals are when they need to be finished, and what “done” looks like.
It’s also impacted how MaKara approaches prioritizing tasks. She got very clear about the difference between To-Dos, Rocks, and long-term issues and between nice-to-haves vs. critical to business success.
MaKara said that before EOS, all those tasks would just get mixed together. Inevitably, she’d just do the easiest things for the dopamine hit. MaKara likened that to a sugar high: she’d eventually crash and realize she didn’t get done what she needed to.
“I’m getting better at having more clarity around roles and delegating,” MaKara said. “We have 40 projects right now, but I only work on maybe one or two. I didn’t realize I was gatekeeping before, and that really wasn’t helpful.”
Learning to let go has paid off. MaKara started with a 10-Year Target™ to help 5,000 communities impacted by larger projects. Now she thinks that number is too low.
“In my wildest dreams, I wanted to do this,” MaKara said. “But getting there in less than a year? I’m giddy with excitement! I’ve learned to do what I do best and trust my team because we have the right people in the right seats.”