There are lots of pithy little sayings that summarize adolescent challenges. I’ve written about them before. They apply to people and companies; both can be brimming with potential, but conflicted between immaturity and burgeoning capabilities. Between my company and my daughters, I am surrounded by adolescents and as I crash through my own mid-life crises, I find it invigorating for some reason. Nostalgia maybe.
This letter outlines how Quartet is dealing with adolescence. It will give you a better idea of what type of company we are, what we’re becoming and what we’re avoiding.
But first, a little summary of our current position; Profitable, employee-owned and triple the size it was when I purchased it 9 years ago, Quartet is doing quite well. It has not been a smooth ride however. We were overly aggressive two years ago and had losses for the first time. Last year we returned to profitability (barely) and were proud not to have any lay-offs. We have several new clients this year and are poised to grow substantially. However, cracks emerged recently in our support processes and last week we launched a company-wide “Back to the Future” service renovation program.
The core of the program is to recapture what made us successful; our culture. Cultural development is inevitable and welcome at Quartet, but cultural drift from our core tenants is intolerable. We suspect our process development efforts got us off track. With too little appreciation for change management, staff and some clients pushed back against process changes. I think they were really resisting cultural change. Quartet was not as much fun, our sense of pride was eroding and nobody liked where we were heading.
Ironically, the second element of the “Back to the Future” program may be the root cause of the problem; process development. Process development is required to meet the increasingly complex technical issues we manage for you. However, as we restore our cultural compass, process changes will come regularly and in small steps. We will migrate to new processes, make the journey one step at a time and hopefully not lose anybody along the way.
We have had great success with the “Back to The Future” program already. Average wait time on the help desk is well under our SLA, emails are being handled promptly and the project backlog is less than 3 weeks. Feedback from our clients has been great. We will continue to innovate along this line. We will unveil a new customer management and a new customer satisfaction process in March and will introduce new web and email services shortly thereafter. Stay tuned.
Technologies change, people change and processes change, but cultures don’t change that easily. That is a good thing at Quartet. One of the keys to thriving through adolescence is to stay grounded in who you are. At Quartet, our culture is our core and our plan is to thrive around that for years to come.