Investing in employees means more than just treating them well by giving them benefits and a flexible schedule. It means putting time and resources into individuals who have potential for greatness, but may need a little guidance.
Contemporary Analysis (CAN) is recognized nationally as a leader in the data science field and is regularly asked to "Spread the Good Word of Predictive Analytics" by presenting on various topics at conferences around the US. In fact, CAN has presented at six conferences in the past 14 months, including:
Today’s flexible work trends favor the clever, well educated and self–motivated. Trends such as BYOD, MOOC’s, results-only workplace, and Holocracies such as Valve and Spotify emphasis the importance of creative, well executed ideas developed by self-motivated employees.
Flexible work trends have emerged because "scalability" allows organizations to realize large gains from ideas, instead of only operational efficiencies. For example, one clever Tweet can reach millions of people, while thousands of mediocre Tweets can fail to ever be read. Today the value is in creativity — efficiency and even automation are just prerequisites.
Today’s flexible work trends are the opposite of the trends of the 80’s and 90’s that emphasized efficiency and cost cutting: six-sigma, just–in–time, out–sourcing, the great moderation, and leverage buyouts. All of these strategies were about extracting more value from what was already being produced. While, today’s trends and technology place a premium on quality and cleverness over efficiency: typically by creating flexible work environments.
However, today's work trends are not without problems. We have created a flexible work environment at CAN and here are several of the challenges we have experienced.
Eventually, we will digitize our bodies, information and objects; creating a network of everything in the world. All of the information in the world is digitized, the next step is to digitize our objects to create the Internet of Things. The concept of the Internet of Things was popularized by RFID's helping manage Inventory flows, but that is just the surface of a far more fascinating application of technology.
Objects can now connect themselves to the Internet. Cisco Software estimates that as of July 29th, 2013 there are 8.7 billion connected objects, or 0.6% of all objects in the world. Embedded sensors and actuators allow them to sense, communicate and adjust to the environment. Objects are able to register and report pain, communicate and respond to humans and other objects.
The following are some examples of how these connected objects, the Internet of Things, will impact our world.
Suppose you have a bad feeling. Perhaps there is an aching somewhere in your body telling you that something just isn’t right. Or maybe you’ve grown accustomed to being energetic and suddenly that feeling has been replaced with a sense of fatigue. Your body is trying to tell you something, and even though you don’t know what it is you do know that something’s wrong.
Traditional business intelligence leaves executives with the same amount of work, but with even more information to sort through. The number of decisions, the unit of work, is not diminished.
Traditional Business Intelligence asks, "What information do you need to make better decisions?" The outcome is hopefully beautiful well designed reports and dashboard that support decisions. The problem is that you still have to make decisions.
Decisions are work. Having more information doesn't reduce the amount of work required to make decisions. In fact, it makes decisions more work. More information does not create less work.
The flaw is thinking that the business decisions are calculations.
Entrepreneurs live with risk and uncertainty. They don't have a choice. The future is up to them. They are responsible for their successes and failures, and success is never permanent. Therefore, Entrepreneurs have to learn to handle the risk and uncertainty of having to be responsible for their company and employees.
I have been fortunate. I have spent the majority of my life as an entrepreneur. In fact, I have never had a "real job". I started my first real company when I was in elementary school, and sold it when I was 20. I have spent most of my life focused on building successful and sustainable companies. My early start allowed me to adjust gradually to the risks and uncertainty of being an entrepreneur.
When I started I had nothing to lose. I started a business because the people I knew needed a service and I had time. Gradually, the risks and uncertainty increased. In order to increase profits I started to take on more and riskier projects. They required hiring more employees, purchasing more equipment, investing more money, and taking more risks. Over the years, I have been forced to learn to handle the risk and uncertainty of being an entrepreneur, both in the good and bad times. I have made and lost money, employees, and capital.
In good times, I learned to stay paranoid. In High School, after getting overly confident I learned the importance of Andy Grove's quote, "Success breeds complacency, complacency failure, only the paranoid survive."
CAN has experienced a lot of growth over the last 4 years. From 2010 to 2011 we experienced 508% growth, and in 2012, while we were focused on improving our infrastructure, strategies and processes, revenue still grew 166%. This growth has required a lot of changes. All of our employees have had to grow as leaders, technicians and businesspeople. And our culture, processes and systems have had to mature. I wanted to make sure that CAN is prepared for more growth in 2013.
To prepare I spent 2012 asking, "What do I need to know to grow my company from less than 10 employees to 50 employees?" The question was less about the number of employees and more about how to grow from a startup to an established company.
I knew that a company with 4 employees was different than a company with 50 employees, but I wasn't sure about the details. Books, conferences, podcasts, associations, coaches exist for people trying to start a company or run an established company. Unfortunately, I struggled to find resources about how to go from a startup to an established firm.
I overheard someone the other day telling their friend that there was no way their CEO deserved a million dollars a year. "What does our CEO even do anyway, " she said? "I wish I could come in late, play golf all day, and have no responsibilities. I would do the job for $500,000 and do it better than him..."
I wish I could say I turned and scolded her about how her CEO probably was at a networking event while she was with her family, works most weekends, including holidays, and never shuts off the pressure of running a business, but truth be known, I didn't know if that was the answer.