Welcome to 2016! This stands to be one of the most exciting or terrifying years in my life depending on how I look at it. But either way change is coming and I have to decide how to approach it. Recently someone said to me change comes in one of two forms, change because pain is greater than fear and/or pain of change or it comes from the recognition that a change will make something better than it is today. Change because of pain is like when I finally break down and go to the doctor because I have been sick for a week and just can’t take it anymore. Change for improvement is when I commit to going to the gym and working out so I am healthier and don’t get sick as often. So while change is inevitable, how we come to it is to a great deal in our control. So as our team exited 2015 and planned for 2016 we made some decisions that I wanted to share with you. We are making some changes that we feel will be positive for our clients, our team members and our community.
Each year as we do our annual planning we “unload the bus” which means we look at each role we need in the company and what their areas of accountability are for each role. We do it with no one listed in the roles and we evaluate each role as to whether it needs to exist and if any need to be added. Once we know we have the “bus right” we start looking at the team to determine which seat everyone needs to be in. We also look to determine who is in more than one and when and how we try and get each of us down to one. This can take a long time in some cases but we try and see the how and when even if it is way off in the future.
This year the role of President was evaluated with the eye to our future. It was determined that the role needed to take on a larger accountability in the integration of our three major business functions; Sales, Service, and Operations; if we want to be even better for our clients, improve the work flow for our employees and be able to grow the company. Once this and a few other changes were made we evaluated who should sit in that seat. While I have sat in that seat for years along with the role of CEO the team really had some questions about whether I should continue to sit in President’s seat. We all have taken many personality, judgement, and emotional makeup tests and are clear about our strengths and weaknesses. I am great at people, future, emotion, speed but I am weak about execution, details, accountability both for me and others which doesn’t make me a strong candidate for how we see the President role supporting our plans.
While I have done in everyone’s opinion a good job of getting us to where we are I am not the right person to get us to where we want to go. To be honest we have gotten here less because of my ability to do the job and more the ability and willingness of the executive team to take bits and pieces of responsibility from me to get us here. For everyone to execute their roles and be accountable for them we need the President to do the same and I am not the man for the job. In that moment another clarity was found in that Brian felt he wasn’t the right person to run Sales and Marketing any longer. Again not because he wasn’t getting the job done with the help of his team but because he sees how sales needs to function as we grow. But what made him good at the sales role was around execution, details, and accountability which made him also well suited to serve as the President of the company.
This has us doing a search for a new VP of Sales and Marketing which will likely be more critical for the firm than even the changes Brian and I are making. Having the right person to lead a team that helps us build the trust with our clients to allow us to do help them focus, execute and grow their businesses is critical. But we know there are people out there that can take this role on and be successful. Just a matter of finding them. Which will take time and mean that everyone on the executive team must carry even more until we do.
So what will I be doing once these changes are complete? Well I get to do what I truly love, I get to worry about the future both for the company and the technology of our clients. I get to focus on what’s next and what’s possible. I also get to continue my role as keeper of our culture which includes our values and mission. I get to spend more time with people and mentoring them to achieve more. I get to work even closer with Brian over the next year as a sounding board and support function as he transitions into the role of President. I also will continue to be the evangelist for the company to the communities we serve as part of the marketing team but also as part of the many great organizations who’s boards I have the pleasure to sit on. For many people this may seem like I am getting the easy end of the stick in these changes but I promise you each role has its challenges.
So if this isn’t enough change to make anyone think we aren’t just changing out the engines on the plane while we fly it we have one more leadership change coming for 2016. While unplanned and one that is happening for reasons we wish never had to occur Matt Drinkwine has stepped down as our VP of Service. Matt has headed back toward his home state of New York to be closer to his family and especially his aging father and mother. For the past 8 years Matt has served in a role that is what I would think of as the keeper of the promises. What sales sold or the executive team committed to Matt had to work with his team to make happen. He has done an amazing job of growing the team from a crew of 3 to a unit of over 15 men and women committed to our mission and values. Matt will be missed but has left a legacy here that will be built on for years to come.
Now this change could have put all of the other changes on hold but we have always hired great people with amazing skills. A few years ago when we decided the role of Consultant and vCIO could no longer be something that Matt and I split so we hired Charlie Waters. Charlie has worked very closely with Matt and I over the past few years. When he heard about Matt leaving Charlie asked to be considered for the role. Charlie saw this as an opportunity not as much to move up as to serve better. He spent much of his time in our discussions talking about how he could serve our clients better and the team better from the role and how the continuity with him in the role allowed the most success. The executive team agreed and as of 12/18/15 Charlie has stepped into the VP of Service role.
We all know filling the role of Consultant and vCIO will take some time to work through and for now Charlie continues to serve his clients and the sales team but is doing it with even more support from the entire service organization. I am excited to see how the team steps up and in to find new and better ways to do those things our clients have come to depend on us for.
As I started I said this could be either exciting or terrifying. 16 years ago I never dreamed about how this company now looks. I never thought I would be as blessed to have as many great people committed to the same cause as I am. I also never thought so much of the success we have had and will have in the future will not be because I did something but because of others. For a high D like me I have to take moments and measure my words to avoid telling too much, doing too much or getting to excited when things aren’t being done exactly how I would have done them. But I know and trust that if I can allow our great team to be great in their way we will continue to grow and execute our mission. So when my palms get a little to sweaty I will remember that it is because I am excited for the future that these changes will bring not because I am afraid of it.
Are you facing change that you just can’t bring yourself to make or maybe you have something exciting that you are seeing as fear? Either way I would love to hear that I am not alone in this world of change in 2016. This year stands to be amazing if we will only embrace it.