For us, Predica’s business culture got clear fairly quickly what it is that we are doing, and how we are doing it. You can find a short story of how we found our ‘what’ and ‘how’ in an earlier blog post.
There is a TED talk by Simon Sinek (Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action), which talks about organizations’ ‘Why’, sometimes also called a ‘Massive Transformation Purpose’ or simply put, a reason for being.
But understanding the purpose that drives us forward, our ‘Why’, took us a bit longer, and required to look deeper inward into why we left the corporate world and why we started Predica.
Do not be discouraged if it takes a longer time to find this purpose, it is natural to find it after some time (in your life as well as a company). Different experiences and exposure to various challenges are required to fully understand what is your ‘fuel’. For us, it was about 8 years of building and running Predica to precisely define and name our Business Culture.
Let me boil down for you what is our What, How and Why.
The ‘WHAT’ of our Business Culture
This one might be the simplest to formulate, as this ultimately is the business you are in. But stating it explicitly is important, as it can be a good guide into what you are NOT doing, so it’s already putting some focus into your business. It’s obvious that no one can be excellent at everything, and humanity got to where it is today by means of specialization.
Our ‘What’ is:
We are here to transform organizations through relevant technology.
This ‘What’ states for every one of us in Predica what we are doing here. It means that:
- We will not try to transform organizations without technology, i.e. go into other non-technology businesses.
- The way we use technology is we want it to be relevant for the organization, which doesn’t always mean the newest, shiniest development framework. It might also mean that we need to drop some projects as the relevant technology for a given project is not within our current capability. If we don’t think technology will solve a problem or benefit the customer in a relevant way – we are never afraid to communicate this to our customers.
- Our end aim is not the deployment of technology, but organization transformation. This means we will not leave the customer after the project without support, adoption, and follow-through.
- And last but not least, this also applies to how we build Predica, we are working always hard on internal tools, processes and ensuring we are always innovating in how we build the company with technology. Some examples: here. Right now we are building the data-driven decision engine that will support our and our customers’ managers make promotion and salary raise decisions based on data existing in company IT systems.
The ‘HOW’ of our Business Culture
The ‘How’ is how you deliver the ‘What’. This is the culture, values, ways of working. For us it’s definitely our ‘triangle of power’ described in an earlier post, plus the below items:
- Our company does it through reliability and superior efficiency
- We do it deciding based on reliable data, not just experience
- Predica does it through experimentation, not just improvement
- Our organization does it with extreme transparency and authenticity
- The firm does it with the right people, not just any people
- Predica does it focusing on personal successes
- We do it through quality, never through quantity
Each of these items can be further elaborated, as the words are chosen carefully. For example ‘We do it with the right people, not just any people’. It means that we will put in substantial effort to choose the people with whom we work. Our recruitment process may be long in time and feel gruelling in comparison with other companies on the market.
The ‘WHY’ of our Business Culture
At last, we come to the purpose behind Predica: accelerate the transition to self-managed organizations.
Let’s break down this statement:
- ‘Accelerate transition’ – we are well aware that it is a process that has already begun but will still take a long time in the future. What we are looking for is to make it a transition (evolution rather than revolution). At the same time, we want drastically speed it up (accelerate) with the use of technology.
- ‘Self-managed organizations’ – by self-managed we mean organizations that become autonomous, i.e. free as much as possible from external or internal limiting factors. It can in some cases even be their internal IT infrastructure or legacy systems and tools.
Such organizations exhibit or strive for these traits:
- Aim to automate everything repeatable
- Build and maintain a strong culture that promotes mutual trust, openness, and authenticity
- Grow leaders, not only managers.
- Foster accountability, responsibility, and autonomy
- Use data and computing to make more precise data-based decisions
Why do we feel such a strong tie to this mission?
Historically all of us, founders, worked in large IT corporations (Microsoft, HP, Dell). We saw immense talents and resources go to waste in these firms, just because of a hierarchical, political, largely manager-dependent organization. We thought there is a way to build a different type of organization. One in which we, as well as our employees, could be our own selves, grow, learn and have a real impact on the world.
This ‘Why’ helps us navigate how we build Predica – the tools, processes, and culture we develop. Just to give you an example: we have experimented with holocracy. In the end, we found it too extreme and bringing in too much chaos. Although there are managerial roles, most of the decisions they make with regard to their teams are either completely or nearly completely owned by data and computing algorithms.
How does Predica work?
The managers in our organizations are leaders who focus on the personal growth of their teams. Furthermore, they have to deliver tangible results themselves (according to our saying ‘Everyone delivers’). We run our organization in quarterly Objective Key Results (see the explanation: here) cycles. This allows everyone to contribute and have accountability for some part of the firm.
We don’t only use our ‘why’ to guide us how Predica works. Furthermore, Predica will use it extensively when working with our customers. We will probe them deep to fully understand the objectives they are looking to achieve. Finally, if we cannot place it in-line with our ‘why’, i.e. it will not accelerate the transition to an autonomous organization. We will likely challenge the project scope.
Finally, our core business, as well as new ventures (outlined in the previous blog post) all, follow the same why:
- Predica’s technology consulting business aims to accelerate the transition of big and successful companies in their businesses into being more autonomous with the use of technology.
- Tedee, our joint venture with Gerda, is aiming to accelerate the transition to autonomous, secure homes for everyone.
- Loopa is looking to accelerate the transition of e-commerce into more autonomous online buying experience for everyone.
This ‘golden circle’ of what, how, why summarizes our principles in an organized fashion. It is a ‘guiding light’ for us, therefore whenever we make tough decisions, we will come back to these. I hope this will serve as an inspiration for finding your own, personal or company, purpose.