What we learned in our second year

December 31, 2016

A common question I always get when I talk to people is if I miss my old job. My answer is the same, I miss the people but there’s no greater feeling that trying to make it on your own. As the year wraps up, I’m trying to reflect on what I’ve learned, where I’ve fallen on my face and where I can improve.

When we started the company two years ago, the idea was pretty simple; help companies move & execute faster because the world is moving at an ever-increasing pace.

We looked at a few different ways of achieving this and we came to two conclusions

  1. Change within an existing organization needs to invariably start from the leadership. Organizations are run by people and the people that steer the direction have the most control.
  2. All of the different constructs available to enable this change, a consulting firm focused on executive strategy made the most sense.

None of us had ever worked in management consulting before but we knew a little bit about the space (some of it was due to House of Lies of course). There are massive companies in the space like McKinsey & Deloitte. Looking at their business models and approach, we thought that we could reiterate & improve upon more traditional models.

One thing that we never realized was the stigma attached to ‘consultants’. Many clients see them as peddling bullshit with Venn diagrams and endless theories.

We wanted to move away from that perception as quickly as possible. One of the early ideas we had was focusing on action and execution.

After a brainstorm, we came up with the idea of merging agile methodology and strategic planning. Thus was born the key linchpin of our growth, agile strategic planning. By reducing our services, we were able to deliver more value to existing customers, better explain our model and win new customers.

Agile strategic planning became our core service offering and we quickly started to hit the limit of excel and google spreadsheets. The idea of a software platform was born to spread the methodology beyond our four walls at our WeWork office. After six months of development with our partner 404, we launched the first ever agile strategic planning platform. With several hundred accounts now created, we face the positive problem of deciding where to focus our efforts- service vs. software.

Other great wins this year include a really smart guy joined our team and a bunch of new organizations trusted us with helping them move faster.

Being involved at the strategic level of companies is extremely rewarding. You get to see the inner workings of an organization and how its core DNA shapes its success.

The key lesson we learned time and again is that it’s all about the people. Technology is indeed reshaping our lives but people decide how to use it, where to invest and the right strategies to employ. We were involved with some very interesting technologies this year ranging from virtual reality to artificial intelligence. That being said, getting a team to all push in the same direction is the prerequisite to winning before anything else.

Nothing’s perfect though and there are a few areas where we still need to greatly improve. Notably focusing better and being less distracted during the workday. Too much time is spent on task switching (thanks constant Slack interruptions). We also need to focus on fewer side projects and deliver higher impact on the selected ones.

It’s exciting to see where we’re headed in 2017. The question we’re asking is how do we generate a 10X improvement in growth & value for our customers. Something tells me technology won’t be the only answer.