I recently read an article in Inc. Magazine's March 2014 issue titled: "How to Grow Without Losing What Makes You Great: Lessons in the Art of Scaling a Company." The article focuses on the more nuanced version of business growth, or scaling, of a company. The idea of scaling entails growing bigger, yet getting better with an even balance along the way. Many companies grow quickly, but their operational value suffers. To this degree, Robert Sutton, a business savvy author interviewed in the article, states: "Companies that scale well have sacred constraints, things they can never screw up. At Starbucks, it's the whole coffee drinking experience. The smell, the sound of beans grinding." In other words, if Starbucks grew too quickly, they risk losing their initial Pike's Place, cozy coffee shop feel. Without the sound and the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans as you enter each and every coffee shop, one's commitment to the Starbucks brand may slowly begin to diminish.
We like to employ the same train of thought. TeamSoft Partner, Eric Larson, recently published an article in TeamSoft's March 2014 newsletter that embodies this very sentiment: We want to grow, but we want to grow well.
"TeamSoft is a simple business and it has always been that way. The only asset of any real value is our people. Our clients' love for us is based on the quality of our people. We don't own real estate or facilities. We have desks, computers, phones and some low-priced art on the walls. Without good people, we would be a garage sale.
Since 1996, we have focused our efforts on finding exceptional IT professionals. Our key differentiator has always been the interviewing process we use to find the right person for our clients. We also do a good job engaging and supporting people once they are on board. We view this as our sacred constraint as a result of our scaling as a company. Feedback from our clients and consultants has always been excellent in this realm.
Last year we challenged ourselves to aim higher. To be the best, we must continually look for ways to improve. With that in mind, we formed a number of internal focus teams. The teams are targeting improvements in key aspects of our business. We have Demand, Delivery, Quality and Retention teams. The teams are using an approach similar to process improvement methods utilized by our clients.
The Retention team is of particular interest since they are charged with maximizing the longevity of our people. Many people view the consulting business as 'temporary'; a stepping stone or stopgap on the way to a permanent opportunity. That has become an increasingly misguided notion. The U.S Department of Labor reports a median tenure of only 5.5 years in management, professional, and related occupations. Company downsizing and every employee's search for a better job killed any notion of 'permanent' a long time ago.
We understand that retention in the consulting business is elusive, but we don't accept turnover as a given. We believe that as long as someone wants to do good work in information technology, they should have every reason to stay with TeamSoft."