February 24, 2022

How to think bigger when you get big

How to think bigger when you get big

47 Degrees is not tiny anymore. We started in a dining room, with a bunch of dollars and four laptops, but right now, we are more than 100 people spread out in different departments and countries.

We, the partners, are not as actionable as we used to be. We are resolutive and stubborn, and with the accountability to contact directly with everyone. We have been the key to pushing and moving things quickly for a long time.

But the complexity of the company and the different departments and management layers make us (if we do the same I mentioned) create more noise instead of velocity.

So, what? We need to understand our change and improve our role to create a better impact. I began to do some changes personally a few months ago, but now we needed something more significant, aligned, and in the same direction. We needed a corporate strategy. We needed to look up and remove the idea of our heads to solve what we are seeing right now and start thinking about how to decipher what will happen.

Gotcha! But there is another issue. That is a super cool word (pretty trending lately, btw), but we felt like we could not do it from our newbie perspective. We have had strategies in the past, but were departments' goals altogether, not something seeing the whole picture. Now we need more. We need to think bigger.

The good part about this; we have always been super good to find great people to be surrounded by. So, we have a current executive layer with the capability and experience to achieve this. One of these awesome folks was vital in this process: our Performance and Improvement Director, Mar Facio.

She has experience as a leader during this change process in different companies, and her help was (and it's going) instrumental. The framework she introduced us to go forward with this exercise and use as a lighthouse is Hoshin Kanri.

So, based on this challenge, she introduced to us this roadmap:


A side note: Konshin Kanri talks about deploying the bottom-up goals. We did more, like a mix. With some global goals from the partners, reinforced with a layer of contributions from the leadership.

Let's go through each point of the process:

  • The Diagnosis:
    I would lie to you if I told you I didn't enjoy this. It was a humble technique to put all the issues we see in our company and the challenges we are detecting in our industry, sector, and other companies.
  • Mission & Vision
    This point was something we have been working on for a while, and it's because we detected we had an issue with our Mission and Vision. We have strong foundations, and our culture is linked to the Partner's ideology. Still, with the growth and the remote environment (we have always been remote, but these two years, we have been forced to be "extremely remote." Without trips, events, or gatherings), we had issues with the transition of that culture. So, we started over.
    With the support of Carmel, our VP of People, we placed multiple workshops of a maximum of eight folks (as much heterogenous possible), pointed out as a reference from a draft with some values, and we finished on this Mission, Vision, and Values statement.
    Our vision has the two things we were constant with from the very beginning — the two essential items for us. No change, company size or technology, would change these two fundamental priorities.

47 Degrees. Where People and Innovation in Software come first

  • Breakthrough Objectives
    If the first point was humble, this is kinda scary. You have to think big, on some realistic but also ambitious view of your company a few years in the future.
    It's like taking a time machine and imagining yourself in the future: your company and your team. And, with the current numbers of 47 Degrees, this is simply breathtaking. The future is bright but also scary. Anytime, it's an excellent exercise to see further to imagine the company you want to be part of.
  • Annual Objectives
    This is the key to the entire exercise. These high-level goals spark everything and go down like a waterfall. From partners to the leadership layer, spread out between departments and every person who forms 47 Degrees.
    We divided them between Cost, Delivery, Quality, and People, but that depends on your company and focus.
  • Objectives deployment
    And at this point, it's when we pass the ball to the leadership layer 🏉. They have the actual weight of the exercise (to give you an idea, we are talking about hundreds of KPI and contributions) to turn out the yearly goals into actionable items.
    And the most important thing about these action items is to coordinate and synchronize them between departments to ensure their reality and link them with a KPI for knowing when they are achieved.

And, is that all? Nah… That's just the beginning! Because of the most important thing about all of this, it's to accomplish it! We can invest months and months thinking, but only it's gonna make it real when it's done.

Now starts the loop of reviewing and measuring. This should be in partnership with a process of meetings and a methodology of work coordinated between the leaders of different departments.

So, here we are! In our past All Hands Meeting in January, we shared the global goals with the company. And after that, the different departments had vertical presentations to talk about their contributions with everyone who form 47º.

We are just starting to implement leadership meetings and processes, but things are going DOPE so far! We feel more aligned and coordinated than ever, and on the other hand, partners are focused on strategy, dodging bottlenecks, and creating impact—rowing everyone in the same direction.

Thanks to the people around us working hard in the leadership layer, because they are the ones who are pushing and solving things down the road.

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