Thursday, 14 January 2010

We strategise and plan

I thought December was going to be a slow month but it turned out to be a busy one. We added a few clients, sent a team up to Gbarnga to do some maintenance work, installed some equipment, made computers compute, commanded printers to print, and basically ruled.

During the last week of December between the long Christmas and New Year's weekends, I took a couple of days out with my team to strategise, to plan - in other words, to workshop.

My initial plan was to actually plan for the first few months of 2010 as I was busy as hell in November and December with building a pipeline of new clients and business. I knew we were going to get busy. I also wanted to brainstorm ideas on continuing to grow the business. Lastly, I wanted to give and get feedback from the team.

As the whole workshop thing rolled out over the next couple of days, it became an interesting and very dynamic exercise. For it to really work, I had to take a few steps back and take a look at the big picture. 'Who are we?' 'What is it that we are selling to our clients?' 'How do we do it?' You know, all the workshop 'blah blah blah' that makes you usually want to kill yourself (those tedious staff meetings at the UN). But this was different. I was leading the process, it was a smaller team and it actually meant something! Not some development intangibles that we are supposed to achieve by building a latrine or buying a $ 40,000 land cruiser.

We had to break down what it was we actually did, what value we brought to the clients, and where we needed to increase our volume. For instance, we broke down our key areas into maintenance, repairs and call outs and projects. We are doing okay in the first two areas but need to get some juicy project to make a juicy profit which we want to re-invest in the business. Alternatively, if we can get the volume up on the first two areas, we can also do pretty well for ourselves. Eventually, I do want to get into supply of hardware too. 'We supply, install and maintain it for you!'

It was a good exercise and I was pleased with the feedback from the guys. We even did a bit of peer review and apparently, I'm still quite the dragon lady which I need to work on. They are still a bit intimidated with me. I had to swallow my fire and smile back and say sure, I'll work on my temper, no problemo.

Apart from feeling a sense of achievement by having gone through that process with my team - it's hard work, eh? - I was so pleased with myself. It all came pretty naturally to me. I am damn organised. Even my guys said, you're so well planned! I am pleased that I can visualise, see the bigger picture and have a feel for the business. My guys are pleased that although I am not a techie, I can sell the business and bluff my way through.

The other fun bit of was throwing around vocabulary with the guys. I love teaching and seeing people absorb new words. We even have a 'word of the day' (it has to be an IT-related word) going on now which is probably more for my sake.

I can't WAIT to build the team, start creating proper departments, get into supply and build a world-class company. We'll be so freaking cool! And everyone will be jealous.

PS. Did you know there is a WAN, LAN and a PAN? Seriously, there is.
PSS. My guys are great techies. They're actually super tech nerds. The only disturbing thing is their taste in music - gospel! Akon! YiKes!!! No, no. For nerds and techies - it can only be hard rock. Maaaaybe alternative.

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