Stop (Frequently) and Think About the Big Picture
September 27, 2016
Case categories include: Entrepreneurship Executive Development Leadership Marketing Operations Sales Strategy & Planning Technology
Lack of any meaningful time to stop and think is a common refrain among busy CEOs who keep the pulse on myriad business aspects from sales and marketing to product development and human resources. Indeed, the demands of running a company often mean a CEO must vigorously defend requests on his or her time in order to create space for contemplation and thoughtful planning. Sid Nandi, Founder & CEO of TeqTron, has taken this problem and turned it into an advantage. By disciplining himself to not only define a long-term plan annually to his company, but also report quarterly on the company’s progress and roadblocks, he has ignited a process at TeqTron that continually hones strategy. Moreover, this tactic bolsters staff inclusivity and morale.
Sid started TeqTron in 2011 with just one person. Today, TeqTron is a fast-growing technology provider that is well recognized in the market and offers a full range of business consulting services, software development and system integration solutions. The first years saw excellent growth, yet as the company structure and strategy began to take on complexity, it was clear that more forward thinking was required for the long-term. Sid began to believe that his job was to not just grow the company, but determine the best kind of growth to target. This line of thinking led to strategic sessions that considered the best way to improve the company’s long-term planning.
“Then we started to see formidable challenges in 2013 and it appeared to me that we had reached an upper limit,” he remarked. “So I began to think: what needs to be done to bring this company to the next level? After some contemplation, I concluded that our real asset was our people, because the majority of our business was consulting. The business was in need of a long-term plan that recognized and leveraged these great human resources.”
As such, Sid labeled 2014 as the year of “Renewed Growth” and made his first long-term planning presentation to every member of the company. He set certain targets for the company to see whether the previous growth they had experienced from the beginning was sustainable. Many people will say that CEOs do not have time. But after the first years of intense growth, the truth was Sid did have time – and responsibility to the company – to get his head above water and solidify a long-term planned approach. He even went back and contextualized his first years within themes to help give guidance to the coming years. 2011 was “Goodwill and Foundation,” 2012 was “Growth and Expansion,” and 2013 was the “Sustain and Challenge” year. 2014 was “Renewed Growth,” and 2015 was “Foundation for the Future.”
This yearly message gave rise to quarterly follow-ups. “I began writing an open letter to company employees every quarter that candidly assessed how the organization was performing relative to the stated goals for the year,” he said. “This exercise not only forced me to frequently consider the big picture, but also held the management team accountable to the employees and offered optics into managerial thinking and strategy. At the heart of this practice is an emphasis on transparency and inclusiveness, which are underscored by other policies I implement such as making company financials available to all employees and offering meaningful equity stakes for worthy employees.”
This long-term planning exercise was not only useful for setting goals, but also for identifying sticking points. There were times when Sid’s annual planning manifesto to the company included strategies that implied hiring and firing. Yet, for those who remained at the company, the understanding of the strategic rationale behind such decisions gave employees a firmer sense of utility and belonging at an organization that takes performance seriously. Sid has further noted that feedback from his employees was best gleaned in one-on-one or small meetings, and rarely came in response to company-wide proclamations. He has also learned that, while communication of vision is key, a CEO should never communicate fundamental worry or panic, though these emotions can be present with the weight of responsibility boring down. Keep these feelings to yourself or closest confidants, he advises.
Thanks to patient, focused long-term planning, TeqTron has made several noteworthy accomplishments as of recent. They released their first version of TeqVas, a supply chain automation solution for the semiconductor industry, which they plan to extend into high tech businesses. TeqTron continues to maintain and build solid relationships with its customers and partners, and is growing at a very healthy pace. In operations optimization, TeqTron is also pushing forward and building momentum. For example, the company recently built its “Center of Excellence” in the Bay Area and opened an offshore center in Bangalore, India.
2016 is TeqTron’s year for “Sales and Marketing,” and the company is aggressively adding new senior sales firepower, marketing spearhead efforts and business development brain trust. “After years of business, we have our infrastructure and process in place. Now we are in the throes of building a world-class sales organization,” Sid said. “We will keep a sharp eye on the vision of continued growth through a sales-oriented strategy, taking a hard look every quarter at what is working and what is not.” And in the spirit of inclusivity, the management team plans to keep all employees in the loop as they continually evolve strategy to keep the company on track for long-term success. To that end, the management team has established “Our Vision 2020,” a long-term plan to evolve TeqTron into a fundamentally unique organization. Each of the coming years will be marked for establishing different focus areas in the organization such as Sales, Marketing, HR and others. Once TeqTron’s solutions drive sales upward, TeqTron expects to see significant growth in all practice areas: growth structure, empowerment, company profit sharing and ownership. Moreover, they plan to expand their customer and market outside the Bay Area and beyond.