Creating a Purpose Led Organization
I hated school. The idea that I had to jump through very specific hoops to "succeed" annoyed and bored me at the same time. I was regularly kicked out of class for not following the rules and often fell asleep in class. In one case, I was actually kicked out of class for falling asleep.
I escaped the hours of drudgery by drifting into a recurring fantasy where I made so much money that I wouldn't have to jump through other people's hoops. I'd buy fun toys, accomplish great things, and people would like me. My favorite part of this fantasy was when I, later in life, would bump into all the people that told me I would fail if I didn't do something this way or that way.
They would all be dumbfounded at how far I made it in life despite questioning all their rules!
Fast forward to 2011 when Kapil Kumar and I started Big Compass. Under currents of my childhood fantasy were (and are) still with me. My goals for Big Compass were straightforward: Do good work, be nice to people, and be profitable.
That sounds like a pretty decent formula, right?
In the beginning, it was, and I got what I dreamt of. Revenue grew, our clients seemed satisfied, and our people liked Big Compass and each other. All we had to do was keep doing more of each of these by continuing to grow.
Unfortunately, deep down, I knew that simply delivering value, liking the people around me, and making a profit wasn't all I wanted out of Big Compass. I would try to address this by asking myself and the team "Do we all work at Big Compass because this is simply the least terrible way to get a paycheck?".
After all, basic human economic theory says we are all doing the least amount possible to get the most amount possible. We all knew this wasn't our "why," but we couldn't come up with anything better.
Despite all of this, we kept growing.
Eventually, we hit an inflection point where the business had grown beyond what Kapil and I could directly manage. No problem, we just hired and promoted people to senior positions to help run the business. With them in place, we were ready to resume our growth march.
To kick things off, we called a meeting to get our new leadership team organized and motivated. In preparation for this meeting, several of our most loyal and respected team members pulled me aside and asked point-blank, "why should we grow?" and "what's in it for the team?".
Evidently, "Why not grow?" was not a good enough answer. I too wanted an answer, but that was going to take time and effort. We weren't founded by a bunch of hippies and “woo-woo” stuff wasn’t where we wanted to go. Previous attempts to discuss this went nowhere.
We had a business to run, but to appease the team, I reluctantly allotted two hours on the agenda to figure out our "why," our Raison D'etre.
Those two hours turned into a full day and night of brainstorming, sharing, and connecting. We were six professional pseudo-strangers in a room talking about our fears, favorite foods, pets, childhood, threats to society, our passions, and more. This meandering display of our insides became our process of discovering our reason "why." We jokingly labeled this idea – "it."
This discovery happened late in the evening and felt imperfect at the time, but we landed on a to-the-point phrase that resonated with all of us. (I look forward to revealing more about our "RaisonDe'etre" in another blog post soon)
Despite having landed on something emotional andcollectively authentic, the meeting ended, and we were all happily sucked back into the day-to-day grind. Safe from any awkward conversations about hopes and fears…or the more even more awkward conversation around "now what do we do?". With no plan, "it" was left to percolate in people's minds, which turns out might have been ideal.
For example, over the next few weeks, I found myself in conversations where people would ask, "What is Big Compass all about?"
At first, I provided the usual answer: "We provide data, integration, and cloud services." After several weeks of answering this way, I finally summoned up the courage to fumble through an explanation of our "it."
Wow, what a difference.
When I explained our company in terms of "why we're here" instead of "what we do" people relaxed, their eyes lit up, and they connected with me and the company in ways I'd never seen before…even when I delivered a clumsy and imperfect version of "it."
It's been several months since "it" was created. It's been a non-linear process, and we are all still learning what this means for the company and us. One thing is for sure, "it" has taken on a life of its own; leading, inspiring, and directing in ways I didn't expect.
It's informing our values, inspiring marketing, helping us recruit and retain the right people, and even touching people outside our company. I recently heard that our Raison D'etre had a positive impact on a CEO who is tackling similar challenges in a company much larger than ours. All of this is happening without anybody pushing or forcing anything.
Defining our Raison D'etre has been a big awkward step forward for our company and me. Great things have come from it — a boost in morale, clarity around recruiting, marketing, and more. However, I know the day will soon come where we must turn down business or pass up on a stellar candidate because they don't line up with our "why." On balance, however, I am happy to give up on my fantasy of happiness through being kind, working hard, and making money in exchange for something more authentic (and scary). -Tim
ADOPTION & EXPANSION
+ Number of APIs
+ Business coverage
+ Number of contracted apps
+ API usage
+ API reuse
EFFICIENCY & COST SAVINGS
+ Number of APIs in each SDLC stage
+ Time spent in each SDLC stage
+ Cost and time to build an API
+ App development velocity
+ Number of launches per year
+ Number of defects
SECURITY & VULNERABILITIES
Time since the last version was published
Number of throttling issues
+ Time to onboard
+ Number of deployments
+ Number of incidents
+ Percentage of customers impacted. per incident
+ Time to resolve incidents