10 years in business – before the change
We sought to bring to the market consulting built on traditional values with dedication, flexibility and responsibility toward our clients. Our priority when founding Aspiro was to create a professional firm with unique team and culture which would translate into the results and impact we make through everyday work for our clients.
Being almost 10 years in business, we continue (and are proud of) to be consulting firm …. but re-defined. In Aspiro, we try to take ideas beyond paper and make them happen. We enjoy rolling up our sleeves and get rewarded by seeing something grow and improve. While our focus is consulting, we do not stop there; we design new business models and look for ways to bring them to the market, together with our clients or even on our own.
So we have changed, the market has changed, customers have changed, the talent and potential employees have changed – as partners we have finally come to a decision that we need to start managing the company differently. It is no longer enough to run the consulting company as a side job during actual consulting work. By the way, this decision was taken long before the Corona crisis “hit the fan”.
But it is easier said than done, we knew that we will shift to centralized company management led by one Managing director and have agreed to hand over the responsibility and accept the changes which it will bring. But first we needed to choose the one – shall it be David? Another one of us? Someone we knew from the past? Someone external and totally new? We took the selection seriously – vision, pros and cons, discussions, interviews…you know the drill. It took some time and effort and we have agreed after all. I should take over the responsibilities, wait what?
We needed (yes still we) to agree how to clearly frame responsibility of newly established Managing Director position and what will such change imply for others. Remember, until now, we have been running in a traditional consulting setup, where all partners were customer-facing lone runners with a “part time collective” management of the company itself. And so the list of responsibilities goes and goes: Steering the company towards the agreed strategy and goals; Managing the communication, promoting values and culture, enforcing standards and rules … = Ensuring that Aspiro works … and it is a great place to work …. again. Ok and alongside that needs to ensure that Aspiro has enough of right things to work on (ok not only that).
Well, it was a major shakeup of company and we did it. Ok but what does it mean?
As a consultant I “knew” what to do, or at least how to do it – define what needs to be changed, governance model, change of responsibilities along key processes, communication channels, priorities, roadmap and KPIs and metrics… It took me a month or two to actually dig through it and it was just a “design stage”. I went through all the company processes looking for the required change and putting it on the roadmap. I soon realized it’s a full-time job and things have to be prioritized and organized logically over and 18-month period. The change pretty much affected every single process from recruiting through IT, Finance, knowledge management to core processes like BD, Delivery, Project management and Quality assurance.
The roadmap was revisited 2 times during the review process, others thought that I am too optimistic and pushing it too fast. And they were right.
It took us almost 12 months to implement the most critical changes and we still had lot more ahead of us.
2 years after
I had learned a lot of things in past years. Yes, I knew that changing is hard, that there will be pushback, that from time-to-time things will not go as planned and the results will be different, but overall, it was worth it. The obstacles can be overcome, the problems can be solved if you have time to do it. And I have time so I am trying.
We have implemented new reporting tools along redesigned processes, so decisions are based on hard data. Even before, we had the same information, but now it is compiled, regularly checked, clean and visible to everybody in the process.
New contracting process has simplified the work for our ladies from operations, we have centralized information about all contractual documents interconnected to each other at one spot. New contract templates will be redesigned soon (hopefully 😊 ).
Our changed approach to recruiting with two new successful campaigns (more about those in some other blog) has brought us 5 amazing young colleagues.
Even the offsites and team-buildings seem to be different now. I am not saying I make them better, but as I have more time for preparation and I am trying to listen to the needs it allows me to fulfill more requests.
So how did we know the change was a success? Obviously, hard criteria like the number of hired people, profitability, quality of delivery were measured. However, most important (and difficult at the same time) is to evaluate the soft criteria, such as atmosphere in the firm, people going the extra mile for the company, employees referring Aspiro positively within their university alumni community, etc. As Peter Drucker said “the culture eats strategy for breakfast”!
Last but least, we have only just now realized how important this transformation was when the year of 2020 came and imposed Corona times on our markets, customers and our business. Having the company in a good and healthy shape started to pay back as we are navigating through this turbulent and unpredictable times.
And so the transformation never ends – we are changing and improving to adapt to new opportunities and overcome new challenges. I like it, I am learning every day. It’s different, but fun.
Are you facing similar dilemmas? Similar problems? Happy to share pain and gain experiences.