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What My Puppy Taught Me About Becoming A Bigger Business
Every living thing makes some kind of transition from smaller to larger, and a business is no exception. I’m fortunate to join NewWave at a transformative time. Change is interesting and challenging. It furthers our development as a company, as component teams, and as individual professionals. The parent in me appreciates the opportunity to help enable growth, while the Cornell MBA in me knows a business must always evolve…or get left behind. My rescue puppy Chaco started out as nine weeks of cute, but with the potential to become a superior pursuer of her goals: squirrels, frisbees, other dogs, deer, etc. I joined NewWave because I saw a team that had already accomplished much and is now eager to do more. My specific role is to help us get better at pursuing our goals, too—the Capture side of government contracting.
One of the foundations of both transformations is the supporting structures. In Chaco’s case, that means the right diet, right toys, and enough love and attention to build confidence in herself and in me. These needs all changed a lot as the months went by. Similarly, NewWave had all the right tools for a successful small business focused on one major client. As the company has matured, our leadership recognized those tools aren’t enough because our needs have changed too. We’re revamping our Customer Relationship Management system and are realigning our organization to support multiple kinds of pursuit and partnering strategies. We’re shifting roles and adding staff to improve the quality and capability of our interactions with prospects, partners and with each other. We’re changing our tools and approach as we expand the scope and scale of what we now pursue.
Another key is education and consistency. In Chaco’s case, that meant daily sessions: short and fun when she was a baby, increasing in length and difficulty as she grew up. NewWave is also making the change to new and more rigorous business processes. For a small business, tradition-based, person-to-person interactions are key to staying nimble and responding quickly. For the larger company we’ve become, roles in a process have to replace the urge to pick up the phone and just call in a favor. We have to change the way we get things done to achieve greater predictability while maintaining our high quality standards. Because this company has already done the hard work to achieve CMMI Level 4 SVC and DEV certifications, I am confident we have the disciplined mindset to tackle this.
A third pillar is to just do the thing, then learn from it. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it sure makes you better. I encouraged Chaco to reach for stretch goals in a structured way, and always forgave her mistakes. At NewWave, we’re not putting our business on hold while we tinker behind the scenes. We still have growth goals and revenue targets to meet. So to change, we rapidly introduce concepts, implement, improve and iterate. My mantra is to get something up and running, and then constantly review and advance. Our top executives push the team for better results, for more, and more focused, interactions with our partners, and to ensure we support each other. And as we do, we have to remember that we must all be constantly open to course corrections. A mistake is an opportunity wasted if we don’t learn from it.
Finally, it’s critical to be adaptable. Before she was a year old, Chaco had run in the snows of the high Sierras, the Southwestern deserts, and on the beaches of both our oceans. She learned to change how she explored, and had to develop new ways to reach her goals. NewWave’s challenge is now to mature our capability to pursue and catch opportunities in business areas where we haven’t concentrated before. We offer services under seventeen NAICS and on coveted vehicles such as CIO-SP3, GSA SPARC, GSA IT-70 and GSA STARS II. While always acknowledging the importance of our existing client base, the only way we’re going to continue to grow is by leaving our comfort zone. And it’s not just about our Capture function. Like many companies, this spring NewWave had to dramatically alter how we work. Maybe because of our roots in healthcare IT, ours is an enviably helpful culture whose steady stream of virtual events and support offerings helps our teams adapt to this new environment.
Chaco has left behind her days of being small, and today can pretty much catch anything she sets her mind to. NewWave is also growing and changing, while sticking to our principles. We focus on forward progress for us and for all the customers we’re fortunate enough to serve. I hope to always be learning about pursuit…and getting better at it as we continue our transition from small to big.