We’re Just Different.

pencils

As the year wraps up, the leadership team at M Corp is, of course, reflecting upon what we’ve done well over the past year and what we can do better next year.

In order to really understand how to drive that continuous improvement, it is important that we understand what drives our success.

Our focus is singularly on how we will create MORE market value each day, each month and each year. How will we further enhance our reputation as a top-notch delivery organization that is laser-focused on the success of our clients?

In order to really understand how to drive that continuous improvement, it is important that we understand what drives our success. WHO are we and WHY do we thrive in a market space that is pretty crowded?

We’ve spent past articles describing our approach, our deliberate focus on the readiness and the needs of our clients – but we’d be terribly mistaken if we didn’t take a look at the true head and heart of a consulting organization: Its culture.

  Related: Getting Back to Basics

I used to find us quirky, because each month we highlight one of our employees in our newsletter, not relative to their achievements but relative to WHO they really are; WHY they joined us; WHAT their interests are. After a year with M Corp, it is clear why we make this a priority. Simply put, it is WHO our people are that makes them so good at WHAT they do – not the reverse.

We hire people based on the person they are and how this, in combination with their skill sets and experience, empowers them to grow their market value, and the value of M Corp in general, through their work with us. Get enough authentically amazing people on our team, people who operate individually like we do as a company, and M Corp becomes unstoppable. That is our goal.

Simply put, it’s who our people are that makes them so good at what they do.

Our corporate culture mirrors our market vision. We seek to eliminate dysfunction. In the client environment and within our own office, this means relentlessly finding ways to neutralize barriers and inefficiencies that prevent forward progress and results. The secret to working with highly bureaucratic organizations – and I think we’d agree that government often falls into this category – is to think creatively, every day, about how to solve problems in new ways.

This takes passion, a lack of fear, a willingness to take risks, and a complete commitment to a successful outcome. None of these things has to do with the number of years of experience an employee has – though we are not suggesting that these characteristics can compensate for a lack of technical skill – but they have everything to do with an individual’s ability to turn that capability into value.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the “creative class” and how this group of thinkers, characterized by their interest and ability to find new ways of doing things, will ultimately drive global change.

This perfectly aligns with M Corp’s focus on legacy modernization. We turn old into new – often under very trying circumstances with very little baseline information. Sure, we get paid to translate code, convert data, extract business rules, and test new functionality. But ultimately, our value lies in our ability to THINK, so we must create a culture that gets rewarded for doing so. We care about the value that each of our team members generates every hour – not how many hours they bill.

The result is that we have teams that go the distance, that truly partner with our clients, and that eschew a risk-avoidant approach for a near fanatical focus on outcomes. If you visit our office, it will look oddly un-like a consulting organization’s space. The light, the layout, the lack of hierarchy and ego – think more Google and less Citibank.

Our office.

Our recently remodeled office in the historic Regis Building. Image & Remodel courtesy of Sutter Builders.

Give people the space, the time, the freedom and the encouragement to make a real contribution and they will, in fact, do so. At the end of the day, everyone wants to know that they did exactly that. Our team members are willing to go to the mat for their beliefs about how our clients can be most successful and how our company can continue to evolve to be better tomorrow than it is today.

We proudly refer to ourselves as a band of misfits at times; we treat one another as smart friends with whom we are lucky to work, day in and day out.

We expect them to do exactly that. We expect them to challenge our leadership team, one another, and even our clients to do the “right” thing, to focus less on a narrowly defined scope and more on the actions that will deliver the project’s intended benefits. These aren’t always easy conversations, but our culture is one that accepts and rewards – even expects – the type of productive conflict that leads to meaningful change.

People come to our organization because it’s a place where they fit, a place unlike some of our competitors, where they might have felt out of place, being asked to perform under certain constraints and boundaries. We proudly refer to ourselves as a band of misfits at times; we treat one another as smart friends with whom we are lucky to work, day in and day out.

At the end of the day, we use our methodologies and our processes to define WHAT we do. But we accomplish this work through a culture, and a corresponding team of players, who do whatever need to be done. We don’t even “think” about it, it is just WHO our people are, how their minds work. You can’t train this, you can’t grow it – you must hire for it. But when you have the team that we have, working the way that it does – you can’t help but deliver more value today than you did the day before.

It’s a winning culture that benefits our clients and the market – and that will drive further value in 2015.

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