The gro.team story started at Betfair (the online betting exchange) in the early 90’s…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 at interim.team 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.
Rorie is the only person to have featured on the cover of CIO Magazine twice, has been awarded “IT Leader Of The Year” by Computing Magazine and 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…
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…
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…
These changes had set the CPO up for success much more effectively and she had…
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…
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…
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
“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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Are you struggling to overcome short term challenges and fulfill your potential?
Are you being held back in your career by your situation and other people?
Do you have natural talent that deserves bigger and better challenges?
Do you want a high flying career that truly reflects your ability?
We have inspirational ex Google, Amazon and Betfair Coaches and Mentors to help you to achieve your goals…
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.”