Grow Yourself
Coaching And Mentoring

Grow Your Team
Interim And Permanent Talent

Grow Your Company
Growth Hacking

Talent As Competitive Advantage

Case studies ...

The gro.team story started at Betfair…the online betting exchange that went on to IPO for more than $2 billion…gro.team Founder Rorie Devine recalls…

”I had been headhunted into a leadership role and it became clear that some members of the team I had inherited were part of the problem – not the solution.

I thought “wouldn’t it be great if there was somewhere I could go to bring in genuine experts to take accountability for X leaving me to focus on Y” and so on.

Unfortunately nothing like that existed.

The “management consultancy” model was (and still is) broken. It works by overcharging clients premium rates for smart but inexperienced and inexpensive people.

Some management consultancy contracts are so long and complicated that by the time a client realises that they’re not getting the value for money or effectiveness they need it is difficult/impossible to end the relationship. The news that Hertz is suing Accenture for $32m for a failed web site implementation (a product and design that apparently didn’t do half of what was specified and wasn’t finished) is one of the few failed projects that come to light publicly…most of the time companies quietly move on…wiser but poorer…

I resolved to form a company to meet the need for genuine expertise where people need it, when people need it and only for as long as they need it and TeamCXO.com was born. Unfortunately few people knew what CXO meant (it’s a generic term for CTO, CEO, CFO etc) so we changed the name to interim.team and off we went…

We were growing very rapidly (revenue went up more than 5,000% in 3 years) and people loved our relentless customer success focus but clients kept asking us “we need some permanent people as well…do you do that?” and “can you help us grow as well?”

Eventually we decided to stop arguing with clients and relaunched as gro.team to work with people to grow themselves via coaching and mentoring, grow their teams with interim or permanent talent and grow their businesses via growth hacking.

The real a-ha moment though was realising that as a self-selecting network of more than 200 high impact, high credential people if we’re serious about adding more value than we extract (and making people, teams and more companies more successful) then we should include free coaching and mentoring as part of all of our interim and permanent engagements.

We are definitely finding that access to free coaching and mentoring genuinely seems to make a difference to outcomes…no matter how good you are you can always get better and it seems that the more successful people are the more they benefit from coaching and mentoring…anyway…

It’s early days…gro.team is still ramping up…but it has been great to see the reaction of the people we’re working with…we’re having a lot of fun and a lot of growth is being delivered…”
 

Rorie is featured in the books “Think Do Show” and “How To Build a Billion Dollar App” saying that the change he brought when coming in as an Interim was “truly amazing” ,”we started to feel we were firing on all cylinders” and “Rorie was relentless in his intention to make Hailo a centre of Engineering excellence. Rorie not only wanted to build the best software organisation possible, he also wanted all of Hailo to work closely together…Rorie is the kind of boss you really want to work for, demanding results but always in your corner.”

Last year gro.team were invited by the CEO of a European airline to coach/mentor their newly promoted Chief Product Officer.

The CEO felt that overall the CPO was well regarded within the company but was struggling to…

    1. Clarify the relative roles and responsibilities of Product and Technology.
    2. Communicate effectively, particularly upwards to the board.
    3. Meet expectations with general Product delivery.
    4. Take enough personal ownership for delivery.

An experienced gro.team Coach | Mentor was carefully matched with the CPO and they duly sent two days together at the airline’s offices …

Together the gro.team Coach and CPO examined the CPO’s current context and perceived challenges…

Overall the CPO felt supported in her role but her challenges were that…

    1. The company culture was more Project that Product based and needed to evolve.
    2. She had a key skill gap and two under-performers in her direct reports team.
    3. One of her teams was very old fashioned in its approach and needed to modernise.
    4. The company needed to knee-jerk less and mature its prioritisation processes.

After the onsite analysis the gro.team person wrote up a playback that was presented to both the CEO and CPO.

Goals were created for both the CEO and CPO, and a date was put in the diary in three months to check on progress.

Three months later the gro.team Coach | Mentor returned for one day on site with the CPO to assess progress and things were pretty different…

    1. The company was now treating new initiatives as product initiatives via the creation/early delivery and iteration of MVP’s.
    2. Both of the CPO’s under performers had left the business and she was at the candidate interview stage for the key hire.
    3. The “old fashioned” team had been on a cultural journey and had really improved the real and perceived effectiveness of their approach.
    4. The company had improved the maturity to its prioritisation processes somewhat, but it was still WIP TBH…

These changes had set the CPO up for success much more effectively and she had…

    1. Clarified the relative roles and responsibilities of Product and Technology.
    2. Started to communicate much more effectively, particularly upwards to the board.
    3. Created a small “Rapid Development” team to deliver business impact much more quickly.
    4. Happily taken on more ownership for delivery now she felt she had more responsibility and control.

With quick wins delivered and short term goals achieved the gro.team and CPO relationship moved on to be one of mentoring rather than coaching and monthly remote catchups were set up to help the CPO build on her successes and continue to lead change successfully…

Fast forward to today and as the CEO puts it…”There has been a real transformation. The CPO is now a much more integrated member of the senior leadership team and is really helping to push our business forward much more effectively…”

All in all it just shows how much of a massive ROI win/win working with a Coach | Mentor can be…

A London based start up had attracted significant Series A funding and needed to take things to the next level…

Their web site had been built by an external agency and they had no internal technical people within the company.

An gro.teamer was brought in (part time) to act as Interim CTO and create an in-house technology capability.

During the first 90 days our gro.teamer:

– Clarified and documented the business strategy and KPIs (the “What”).

– Created a draft technology strategy (the “How”) and then created an API and Platform based Technology evolution strategy.

– Formed a strategic partnership with a recruitment agency.

– Hired a small but great team of in-house developers.

– Took ownership and control of the company’s web site and migrated it to GitHub and Google Cloud.

– Implemented task and product roadmap based workflow and reporting.

– Launched a workplace social collaboration system.

– Improved the web site download speed and took significant friction out of the web site customer experience.

– Initiated major product initiatives in both mobile and brand monetisation.

– Identified, hired and on-boarded a permanent CTO before handing over the baton and moving on to their next challenge.

As the CEO joked…”what a difference a “year” can make ha ha..”

By working closely and regularly with customers, delivering early, iterating ideas and working cross-functionally towards a common goal Agile software development transformed the business of creating software.

Agile development massively increased the value delivered by the typical software development project by favouring “individuals and interactions” over specification, “working software” over pretty much everything, “customer collaboration” over contract negotiations and “responding to change” over blindly following a plan…

What would happen if we used these “Agile” principles to deliver Growth rather than Software?!?

We could favour “customer collaboration” and “individuals and interactions” by forming a cross functional Growth team including both “customers” and “suppliers”.

We should include representatives from Product, Sales, Marketing, Technology, Operations, Finance and so on…

We could favour “working software” or Growth in our case by giving the team the single unifying purpose of growing a carefully chosen growth metric.

The Growth Team could be “responding to change” rather than a plan by delivering early and taking a measure-act-measure approach to ideas through “on ramp” to “live” stages.

The Growth Team could communicate and meet regularly, maybe a quick “stand up” at the same time and place every day would work really well.

We could work to a weekly or fortnightly rhythm with the cumulative affects of the growth activities on the Growth metric being publicly demonstrated (and hopefully celebrated) at the end of every cycle or “sprint”.

So we have created a cross-functional team meeting regularly with the unified common purpose of doing anything and everything necessary to measure-act-measure the impact of their ideas on a single carefully chosen growth metric.

That’s cool but…

Maybe we could give this sort of approach a name…like Growth Hacking or something?

Yes Growth Hacking is the sort of term that means different things to different people but anyone familiar with Agile software development will be struck by the similarities between the approaches, rituals and rhythms typically used in both Growth Hacking and Agile Software Development.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Does it all work in the real world?

Yes.

The same underlying principles that make Agile software development so effective also mean Growth Hacking can totally transform the effectiveness of a company’s growth activities.

I recently spent a day with the talented team at a well backed UK based energy startup called Hometree who are creating a great brand by disrupting the domestic energy market customer experience.

We had a really productive workshop where we honestly examined the Strength Weakness Opportunities and Threats in their current growth landscape, discussed and then selected initial and ultimate growth metrics, collected growth ideas, created a growth board, reconstituted the growth team and set up the new team’s rituals and rhythms.

Not bad for one day and Andreu Tobella Brunet the Co-Founder of Hometree UK commented…

“As a start-up that is using an innovative way to sell online, we created a growth team from scratch but were having a few challenges to structure it well and have clear objectives and team alignment. This is where Rorie stepped in and helped us understand well all the roles, define our single metric and create a high performing growth team. The whole team was extremely pleased with the improvements, I would highly recommend him”.

Whether you call it Growth Hacking or something else, a very effective way of accelerating your growth is to learn from agile software development and to create a cross-functional team meeting regularly with the unified common purpose of doing anything and everything necessary to measure-act-measure the impact of their ideas on a single carefully chosen growth metric.

The news that Coca Cola has closed down its’ Founders startup incubator has led to the usual raft of “I Told You So’s” saying that it’s because corporate startup incubators don’t work – but are they right?

I have been involved with three big companies launching internal startup “Incubators”/”Labs” teams so far…and what have I learnt?

Firstly I think it is done for good reasons.

Startups normally have good people, energy, good ideas, leading edge tech, a low cost approach, a high risk appetite and a willingness to challenge orthodoxies. They just want to get stuff done.

Big companies normally have deep pockets, millions of customers, a great brand and experience of operating at scale.

Surely the best of both worlds would be for big companies to launch startups? What could go wrong?

Well, quite a lot as it happens.

Mistake #1 – Not defining what you want the startup to achieve

In other words what will success look like?

It sounds simple but there is spectrum of “innovation” ranging from far horizon R&D to tactical (incremental) improvements to existing products and services.

What is wanted/needed? Success needs to be defined and solved for.

In general the startup should not be given special treatment…”success” is to create a growing business that attracts and retains customers.

Mistake #2 – Not getting total organisational buy-in and executive sponsorship

Sooner or later the startup will be stopped dead in its tracks by a blocker if the whole of the organisation isn’t behind it – from the top downwards. With the best will in the world active and passive resistance will be met and the startup needs to be able to wheel in very senior people to call bulls*t and unblock things.

Mistake #3 – Integrating the startup so tightly that it effectively becomes another corporate department

The whole point of a startup is to do something different so if you insist it uses existing people, existing corporate assets and the current approaches you will get what you got. You need to achieve a loose coupling whereby the startup has the freedom to chose between doing something new and leveraging corporate infrastructure case-by-case based on what is best for the startup.

Mistake #4 – Getting the wrong people to “be” the startup

If you are going to create a startup you need to do what startups do. This is for a team to self-select great people passionate about what the startup wants to do. If you ask one of the big system integrators/consultants to create a startup within your company you might end up back in the worst-of-both-worlds territory. The people in the startup don’t need to be existing or new employees either necessarily – they just need the talent and drive to deliver the goals. Organisations like gro.team can supply high impact interim talent at short notice into these kind of situations very successfully. Possibly the best loved UK retail brand will soon be launching a new customer service (that is very different to its’ current business) using this approach and the gro.team person in that team is part of a startup that stands comparison (in terms of talent and effectiveness) with any of the many startups I’ve seen.

Mistake #5 – Not integrating the new product/services back into the Mothership

We created a Labs operation when I was CTO of Yell and we did nearly everything right. We hired great people, they developed a great micro-culture, they produced some really innovative products and services (including a really cool augmented reality app way back in 2010) but we never really managed to integrate the new things back into the existing business and deliver customer impact. For that reason it has to marked down as a failure overall.

Corporate startup incubators can be a graveyard for ambition (and there are a lot of traps for the unwary) but it can be done successfully – Telefonica’s launch of giffgaff and British Gas’s Hive are just two examples that come to mind.

As with a lot of things, in this area experience is a great teacher and nothing beats getting people involved who have been there, done it and have the scars to prove it.

Rorie Devine is an Interim CTO and Growth Hacker for gro.team

We are helping partners with 1 to 100,000 employees

Grow themselves with coaching or mentoring

Grow their teams adding interim or permanent talent

Grow their businesses via Growth Hacking

amzl
Moneyfarm

The
CTO¦ CIO
Bible

# 100
Amazon Information Technology Bestseller
ATG
ATG
A bible - chapter and verse
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Don't buy this expecting the usual self congratulatory amble through someone's career - it gets the the point quickly with distillations of hard bitten wisdom from decades of not just Rorie's experience but those he's worked with. Full disclosure - I've worked with Rorie - and its great getting some reinforcement of his values: - Pragmatism - anecdotes about Betfair introducing search even though it came from a developer not a product owner; successes prototyping over exhaustive specifications; - Communication - Rorie's Ramblings weekly newsletter follows him from engagement to engagement and set a great example on openness - Passion - not many CTOs would give so much space for a love letter to a language - if only all CTOs could defend technology decisions
Thomas Kiessling
Thomas Kiessling
A great cookbook
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I highly recommend this book for both CTOs/CIOs at the beginning of their career and for experienced technology leaders on a quest to continuously improve and re-calibrate themselves. The method of the book is to distil decades of experiences into simple learnings. It’s a cookbook. It creates a mental grid of domains and principles for a technology leader to succeed. It also provides entry points to deepen your knowledge in specific subjects, always pointing back to the larger context. Well done. Fun to read.
LWS
LWS
A Fantastic Go-to guide
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Very interesting book which provides you with key advice as to how to manage your company and teams as a CTO or CIO. It is solution-focussed. It’s easy to read and can be read in any order. So if you need to know something quick, it’s a great go-to guide. The good thing is that it works on key aspects of management and provides you with fast and straight-to-the-point advice. Highly recommend to professionals with little time on their daily schedules who need a book which they can consult quickly to find a solution or improvement to their current situation.
Mr. Faisal Ahmed
Mr. Faisal Ahmed
Really insightful
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Easy to read in a complex world full of buzz words, really recommend this to anyone in the business field. Cannot wait for a follow up book.
Jonathon Moore
Jonathon Moore
Super!
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Bucketloads of great insight across the full spectrum of product development. A great read for product and engineering leaders alike.
Roseland
Roseland
Very readable
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A very easy to read and digest book that gives lots of tips and ideas for how to make a high impact in a positive way as quickly as possible. Not a technical book, but one of leadership, relationships and how to add value. A definite must for the library.
Martin King
Martin King
Thinking from an expert!
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Clear and concise advice for people that already have a lot of the building blocks in place. The book offers plenty of critical thinking from a seasoned expert. Thanks Rorie!
Mr. S. Edwards
Mr. S. Edwards
Wisdom for busy execs
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I loved the simple, concise format of this book. Full of bite sized wisdom and instant takeaways to 'try now'. Rather than a massive tome of boring management theory, busy execs can read this book on a train journey and get instant value. Highly recommended.
manub
manub
Actionable leadership tips
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I've had the pleasure to work with Rorie and I was looking forward to read his book. I wasn't disappointed! The format may not be liked by everybody as more than narrative it's a series of tips, however I find the insights very helpful. On some topics I have slightly different views but Rorie gets his argument through explaining why he's giving those tips, based on his 20 years experience. Definitely a good read.
Alex Farr
Alex Farr
CIO UK Top 100
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An essential read for any #CIO or #CTO in 2020. Authored by the extremely talented Rorie Devine, the book gives the mission, objectives, strategies and tactics needed to succeed. It may even contain a small contribution from yours truly...
Oliver Bayes-Shelton
Oliver Bayes-Shelton
CTO
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Great book by Rorie Devine, I always enjoy reading things by peers! "The CTO ¦ CIO Bible: The Mission Objectives Strategies And Tactics Needed To Be A Super Successful CTO ¦ CIO"
Eoin Woods
Eoin Woods
CTO at Endava
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Interesting new ebook from Rorie Devine on how to be an effective #CIO based on his experience in the role and also working as an interim, seeing inside many organisations. Structured into bite-size pieces for easy digestion!
Michael O'Gorman
Michael O'Gorman
CTO/VP Engineering
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Just read CTO ¦ CIO Bible by Rorie Devine - great valuable insights by very experienced CTO - must read for all current and aspiring CTO’s/CIO’s - great job Rorie Devine
Artur Grabowski
Artur Grabowski
Technical Director
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Some really good tips and advice in "CTO | CIO Bible" by Rorie Devine. Definitely worth reading by anyone involved in a technology leadership role.
FJK
FJK
A map to literature
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I feel this book will be like Marmite, there are those that will see it as a collection of thoughtful prose and those for whom this will echo deep within their philosophical core. It captures decades of experience in a concise, entertaining and direct manner while inviting the reader to delve deeper into the topics through citations, references and suggested sources. Anyone who has studied social psychology knows that stories are on of the most powerful information dissemination mechanisms. If you read or listen to a story and instinct tells you it is correct than the author is probably on to something. Keep drawing on your experiences, keep enticing people to learn... Well done.
Nikos Kryvossidis
Nikos Kryvossidis
CTO at Racing Post
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A very interesting book has just been published by Rorie Devine => http://bit.ly/CTOCIOBible Highly recommended!
Ian Woosey
Ian Woosey
CIO Clarion Housing
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Some really excellent thoughts in here, well worth a read by anyone involved in a technology leadership role. Thanks Rorie.
Rich Phillips
Rich Phillips
Consulting CTO
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Not a long book but, packed with sound advice and tips from the author's own deep and varied experience as a consulting CTO. Reading a book cannot make a person a great CTO or CIO, but a good one like this can certainly help put the aspiring professional on the right path, act as a starting point for further research, and help avoid the common pitfalls.
Louise
Louise
CEO Energy Trading
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Found this book really helpful. Lots of ideas and advice that got me thinking as well as practical examples of successful strategies and advice on how to manage complicated projects. Highly recommend.
Loana Wurzel
Loana Wurzel
COO
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Brilliant! Fantastic insight into what it takes to be a successful CTO or CIO. I love the way it is set up in easy to read sections and it works really well on a phone. It even manages to bring humour into being a CTO which must be difficult. Read it even if you're not a CTO any modern leader would benefit from reading this book!
Ade McCormack
Ade McCormack
Digital Readiness Institute
Read More
Congratulations Rorie. Nice format. Easy to read. Clear direction.
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Are you struggling to overcome short term challenges and fulfil your potential?

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Sort out your ideal Coach or Mentor…

Do you need to augment a team with experience, urgency and clarity to get the delivery you need?

Is one of your key people underperforming?

Do you need something hard done quickly and well?

Do you need a team restructured, refocused and taken up a level or two?

Do you need a some diversity added to one of your teams?

Do you need great role models and cultural ambassadors added to your company?

Do you need to upgrade your skill mix and bring in high performers?

Do you need more shoulders to the wheel to deliver your plan and budget?

Are you struggling to get attention for your product or service?

Are you finding Marketing confusing, difficult and expensive?

Have you been ripped off and let down by agencies and experts that promised a lot and delivered a little?

The most cost effective way (bar none) to grow your company is to use growth hacking….

Growth hacking is “hacking social media, SEO, incentives, product features, traditional marketing techniques and anything and everything as part of a singular focus on growth.”

Out of the box thinking...

> Know someone hiring interim or permanent people?

gro.team has such a broad range of client success focused growth services that more than 50% of the people we meet want to work with us...

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