This is Part 2 of an in-depth post about how Techdept is transforming based on the ideas of “radical optimists”. Part 1 explored these ideas and how they are guiding our mission, vision and positioning. If you haven’t read it yet then I would recommend you do so.
In this post I will show you how we’re taking the thinking and turning it into concrete steps. From vision to reality.
Mindsets & Habits
To embed these new ways of thinking we needed to embed…new ways of thinking. A Tech Special Ops Team is defined by its training. What was our Tech Special Ops Manual?
As it happened the structure for this came out of a conversation I had with my personal trainer. To create a transformation in your physical shape, you needed to change your mindset first (I’m going to look great). Then you needed to change your habits (get up earlier to train, and lay off the cake).
This principle of Mindsets then Habits was a simple way to encapsulate the change required within our business. In effect Mindsets were our Values – the way we approached our work. Our Habits were the way that we did our work.
But while I – and my fellow Directors – had a clear idea of what we thought the Mindsets and Habits would be, it would be the team that had to ‘own’ them and make them real every day. We needed their help clarifying what these should be.
For years we’ve operated an ‘Open Business System’ which actively encourages people to feedback on the operations of the business – as we operate. We try and be as ‘flat’ as possible, a culture that challenges accepted ‘ways of doing things’. To establish the best way from all our cumulative experiences.
So we chose an open and collaborative process – still underway – to decide our Mindsets & Habits. The top team have absented themselves – until later in the process – to allow people to speak up, and speak their minds.
Phase 1 of this process is a research mission, to listen to our team and give them a platform to discuss, debate, challenge, create. In Phase 2 we will all have an open discussion to agree the right areas to focus on.
This conveniently links up with our annual PDP process (June / July) at which we can discuss one on one what these changes mean to people and how we implement them.
This work will be revisited twice a year, to ensure that our Tech Special Ops Manual is up to date.
Our Unique Process
In Part 1 we saw how I’d signed up for the world’s leading entrepreneurial coaching programme: Strategic Coach.
Well at my first “Coach” session I saw a book called “Industry Transformers”. Throughout the book Dan Sullivan introduces you to small-medium sized business owners (in North America) who have transformed their industries by creating a Unique Process. A way of doing things that is uniquely theirs, and as a result means that they create ‘experience monopolies’. These then start to transform their industries.
A lightbulb went on as I read stories of cleaning companies, IP lawyers and financial services professionals. Our way of doing things – like theirs – was different. But we had never truly communicated that difference.
From the outside we could appear as “A. N. Other digital agency”. But from the inside we were very different. Our aim was to be “The World’s A Team Of Tech” – a special ops team focused on results, and constant improvement. Building products and engineering software.
What’s more no-one REALLY wants to buy UX, or code, or consultancy. If they could get away with it they wouldn’t. What people want is a transformative experience which gets results for their companies, and their careers.
So, what would a Tech Special Ops Team do for its clients? The answer: Bootcamps.
Techdept Bootcamps ™
So from now on we do not do ‘projects’ or ‘jobs’. We do Bootcamps. Because when you run a Bootcamp you expect results. They are tough. They stretch you. They are transformative.
But a successful Bootcamp relies on your knowing what you want to achieve.
Imagine you go to a personal trainer, because you want to look buff on the beach. But they don’t adapt your diet, so you never lose any weight. That’s what most digital projects look like. You “build a web site” but you don’t measure whether it actually did what you wanted it to do.
Our mission is to ditch flabby thinking, to help our clients get in shape.
A Techdept Bootcamp™ has 6 stages – and is all built on a shared understanding of what is to be achieved – documented at the outset in a Bootcamp Measurement Scorecard™.
Results can be qualitative or quantitative, or based on just getting the thing done right, and on time (if time is tight). The important thing is to collaboratively agree the aims.
The Dog Wags The Tail
By focusing on results we design all our efforts around that – not the vagaries of a (for example) UX, design or web development process. We move heaven and earth to achieve your objectives for your budget. If it means doing things differently then that’s what we do.
We have a long history of being able to do projects that others can’t. That could be for technical or budgetary reasons (we’re good at being able to find answers at pace). Often we don’t approach things in the traditional way. But that means we get results.
The Bootcamp gives us clear rules, and a clear process. But it focuses everyone on the most important part of the process – the results. Everything else is subservient. The dog wags the tail.
And with a Measurement Scorecard you can quantify performance, and adapt and improve over time – either with us, an in-house team or a 3rd party.
In addition, we have decided to make all our Project Management processes transparent (for clients that want this level of detail). That means an open Slack channel, email threads and meetings. We’re already doing great work, we just need to pull back the curtains – speeding things up and helping our clients learn from us.
We plan to share the 5 most important lessons learnt that month in our monthly Insights newsletter.
In time we aim to hold Bootcamp Circles™ every quarter – where clients, partners, staff all get together – from every Techdept Bootcamp. At these events we will openly discuss (if possible) what went right, and wrong, so we can all learn from each other. Obviously confidentiality will be respected.
Onwards & Upwards
Hopefully the ideas within these two posts have energised you as much as they have me and the team at Techdept. Yet this is only the start of the journey. These are experiments, and we’re measuring the feedback we get (quantitative and qualitative) to evolve as we operate. Early signs are very positive.
We’ll be posting future updates about our 10x future – if you want to get them to your inbox, sign up for our Insights Newsletter on the Blog.
And if you have any thoughts or comments, don’t hesitate to let us know on Twitter. Or drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
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