In a previous post I described how we prepared for 2020 by reflecting on 2019 to set our intentions around how to evolve our behaviors, and by writing down our values, as a key precursor to understanding desired directions for growth. Both those activities greatly influence WHO we are as a company, and how we show up.

Our next steps are around our WHERE–our True North to guide where we head in this year–and our HOW–the key strategies that we think will get us there.

Elevate’s Intent for 2020

Our True North is “Growing Elevate Thoughtfully”. Not many words, and yet because of the conversation behind them, each word means a lot to us, and represents a decision about what *not*  to do. 

Growing: We won’t remain flat in terms of number of people and customers. We considered not growing at some point. We could easily choose to have a company that is ‘just us’ and that affords enough opportunity to help make a few companies amazingly successful each year, enough money to be sustainable, and enough freedom to take lots of vacation. That could be fun! It’s just not the impact we want to have. 

Growth means working with more awesome colleagues we love and respect. Growth also means having a bigger impact on the world. We are, after all, trying to change the world of work (more on our Vision/Mission in a later post). It also means having a bigger impact through our pledge 1%-2%-3% efforts. So, yes, let’s grow!

Elevate: We could grow by taking a lot of work that we simply pass through to subcontractors. We could provide tons of coaches and others to help our customers in their transformations. But what we really want is for Elevate itself to be a small, tight-knit group of senior consultants who can work at high levels at our customers to make a significant impact and then get out of the way as our clients own their own transformations. We want Elevate to have a clear identity as a purpose-driven company.

 Thoughtfully: We care deeply about creating a company–a home base–in which people can be inspired. We want to foster an environment in which people can do their best work. We know reckless growth often comes with a drop in quality.

Thoughtful growth means growth such that we can take care of ourselves and our people financially, sustainably, and continue to create content that our customers and partners find useful. That feels great. Insane growth often means everyone is billable all the time, leaving little time or energy to build new content with quality, to learn, to continue to build the foundation that allows the company to run smoothly. So, growth in which we are thoughtful about the balance and about the impact on the humans.

So, three words that represent a lot! They are our WHY, our intent, for the year.

Key Strategies — Our HOW

Next step is to identify the HOW. There are lots of ways to grow thoughtfully. How will we choose to do it?

For 2020, our key strategies are simply an extension of the ones we had last year. Not strange for a new company establishing itself. The strategies describe how we want to develop our company and our services; last year we did that slowly while delivering a lot. This year, we will continue that practice, while also trying to leave a bit more time to focus on building the business.

Briefly, and transparently, here are our strategies.

  • Create an Inspiring Home Base:  We have an inspired team, and we want to be even more inspiring as we grow that team. We want to inspire humans around us to continue to change the world for the better. To do that, we need to work on some of our systems that support scale, as well as the human cadences that keep us connected.
  • Scale Our Transformation Business:  We are excellent at partnering with our customers to lead digital, cultural, and technology transformation leveraging lean portfolio management, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), and business agility and DevOps principles. We want to make that process even easier and more valuable for our clients. We have some content work to do here.
  • Develop a Successful and Repeatable Strategy Deployment Business: (Note: Our clients often refer to this work as “critical initiative deployment” or “program deployment”.) Our principals and expert strategic facilitators help companies deliver on executive strategies and change initiatives, including large scale M&A, cultural change, IT transformation, and business model change. We help make large-scale, high-risk change successful. We want to enable more of our team members, partners and clients to excel at deploying critical strategies into large, complex businesses. Right now, to be honest, we don’t have sales or marketing materials about this, because we’ve not had to. Amazing humans who have worked with us in the past have pulled us in to help them deliver in their new environments. 

If we did this strategic planning well, this intent and strategies will focus and guide us throughout the year. We’ll be able to make decisions all year long based on these. Should we take particular client work? Should we attend that conference? Pursue that professional development? Spend time on that new content? What will be the shape of our organization? How will we all find our passions? How will we fulfill our mission (something we are also crafting into clearer words)?

It feels good to apply our deep knowledge and experience in strategy articulation and deployment to ourselves.

We facilitated ourselves through this intent capture exercise, and we do this for clients as well as part of our strategy deployment services. How are you and your teams preparing for 2020? Can we help you articulate and deploy your most critical programs more effectively?