What Makes A Company Successful?
I’ve spent 27 years working for technology companies, from some of the biggest to some of the smallest. I’ve learned a lot about what makes a company successful, particularly when it comes to growth companies. I also know what to watch out for from a success metrics perspective (as well as from the downside perspective…).
I’ve seen too many companies fail as they trip on one of these three variables. For example, many companies have great ideas but then have a lengthy or complex time-to-value – the ultimate startup killer. Larger companies, especially in the last decade, often simply fail to fully adapt as they digitally transform and as they attempt to shift their focus from making products to a more customer-focused service delivery model.
In short, solving urgent problems for customers and demonstrating value quickly are the foundational elements. Whether a company is a disrupter or is working on disrupting its own business, speed of execution and commitment to the mission are paramount.
The X-Factor: Culture
But while technology and business aspects are critical, what sealed the deal for me joining Augury was the culture.
Admittedly it took me a while to get to this place. Like many, I did not take culture as seriously as I should have. It’s easy to write it all off as a set of platitudes that’s shown on a slide during a board meeting or an all-hands.
Augury is fundamentally different in this respect. Culture is a part of everything the company does. Before signing-on, I had a wonderful try-before-buying opportunity. I got to work with Augury’s executive team over several months as an individual and not as an employee. I saw they lived the culture and their values. I witnessed this in how they treated each other and in how they worked.
When I was offered the job, I was elated. I knew this was a group of people I wanted to work with. And as strange as it sounds, joining a company largely for this reason was a new thing for me…
Million Dollar Question: What Makes Us Happy?
For much of my career, I thought I could do any job as long as somebody paid me enough. But then I realized this wasn’t true at all.
And funny enough, in the past, I had often mentored people and encouraged them to take more control of their careers in a very deliberate way. I’d explain that too often people just float their way through their careers. They go to university, talk to recruiters, and pick a job that seems the most exciting – or offers the most money or prestige. Later, they might get a promotion or be recruited by another company, but they stick to the path.
Well, that’s exactly what I was doing. But the fact was, while I’ve had many amazing opportunities and experiences, I’ve also been a part of activities that made me question my path. For example, many restructuring initiatives involve laying off large numbers of people to achieve financial targets. A good leader recognizes that they must make tough decisions to keep an organization healthy. But people are not numbers. It’s unnatural to wake up in the morning and say ‘I must make these numbers for this quarter’ – which translates into taking away all these livelihoods. I can tell you over time it steals your soul.
So, I reached this inflection point. Because I hadn’t taken the advice I had given to others: Take the time to step back and wonder ‘What am I good at?’, ‘What makes me happy?’, ‘How can I create joy for myself, my family, the people in my community?’
It was at that point of asking these questions, one of my mentors asked me what my priorities were. I answered predictably but from the heart: “Family.”
“No, it isn’t,” he answered. “Family is just one of your priorities. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been doing what you did for the past 27 years. You wouldn’t have worked so hard. You wouldn’t have been seeking satisfaction through professional accomplishments.”
So of course that observation set me thinking…
Staying For the Culture
My mentor’s comment became a pivotal moment for me. I realized that while I could no longer look at success through the prism of a spreadsheet, I do thrive on professional success. I’m also passionate about working with good people, solving hard problems, engaging in passionate debate, being able to speak my mind, having shared goals and outcomes, and building something that meaningfully impacts the world. I realized that “authenticity” in values and culture is something that must be lived and reinforced everyday.
This is what I found at Augury. The amazing tech and solid business model may have initially attracted me here – and I love that stuff. But I’m staying for the culture.
In other words, this is a work family I can stand behind.
Perhaps you want to join the team? Keep an eye on our career openings.