AGONY LANCE

Let Lance Wiggs help with your tricky busi­ness prob­lems. Tweet him a ques­tion @lancewiggs

Idealog - - Contents - Lance Wiggs wears a very stylish busi­ness con­sul­tant hat.

EX­POSE ME

Q So we’ve just won a Deloitte Ris­ing Star award, but now what? What should we do to max­imise our ex­po­sure af­ter win­ning this or any award? James Alder, BookMe

A BookMe is too young to make the of­fi­cial Deloitte Fast 50, which re­quires com­pa­nies to be three years old. That sur­prises me, as it feels as if it’s been around for longer, but in any case it’s grow­ing fast. But sadly the main im­pact of win­ning a com­pe­ti­tion, be­yond the ini­tial press, is ever­last­ing calls from providers of all sorts of un­wanted ser­vices. That’s what hap­pened for me with Pow­erKiwi’s sec­ond place in the Deloitte Fast 50 last year, and I’m glad the calls will stop when this year’s list comes out.

Over­all, awards should be a recog­ni­tion of what you have achieved, not how good you are at ap­ply­ing for awards.

Firstly, spend very lit­tle time ap­ply­ing for any award, and by that I mean two hours or less. The Fast 50 is com­pli­ant here, as its form was sim­ple, and shar­ing the Xero ac­counts made ev­ery­thing easy. There was an en­joy­able in­ter­view as well. The Hi-Tech awards are also sim­ple, with a web-based form to fill out. One com­pany I know started to fill it out af­ter the time had ex­pired, and even­tu­ally ended up with a Highly Com­mended.

Se­condly, ap­ply for the awards that you re­spect. There are many low-qual­ity awards in our ecosys­tem and the sim­ple way to de­ter­mine the qual­ity of the awards is to look at the pre­vi­ous win­ners, the judges and the sponsoring or­gan­i­sa­tion. If you re­spect th­ese, then con­sider ap­ply­ing. To me, the judges are the key – if they’re not smart in­dus­try in­sid­ers, then the fi­nal re­sults may be some­what ran­dom. This can re­sult in awards be­ing pre­sented to the glitzi­est ap­pli­ca­tion or fastest-talk­ing in­di­vid­ual. As a judge in sev­eral com­pe­ti­tions, I’ve been very firm that the qual­ity of the ap­pli­ca­tion is ir­rel­e­vant ver­sus the qual­ity of the com­pany, and I al­ways look well be­yond the ap­pli­ca­tion it­self.

Thirdly, let the awards gen­er­ate the pub­lic­ity for you, not vice versa. Fo­cus on grow­ing your busi­ness rather than theirs, but use the award ju­di­ciously in your promotional ma­te­ri­als. Xero did a very good job of this in its early years.

And fi­nally, re­mem­ber that it’s all a game – the spon­sors, or­gan­is­ers, judges and par­tic­i­pants are all gain­ing from a well-run event. It can be an ex­pen­sive en­deav­our and some­one has to pay for it, of­ten the com­pa­nies them­selves. If you’re in­vited to take part in any of the roles, make sure you know ex­actly what you’re get­ting into. Be aware that be­ing part of a low-qual­ity event may be dam­ag­ing to your own per­sonal or com­pany brand, but on the other hand, a great event can be en­hanc­ing for ev­ery­one.

GET IT TO­GETHER

Q We’re a tech startup grow­ing quickly right now and we’re con­sid­er­ing our op­tions for a proper or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture. What should we think about, and how does or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture help in­flu­ence the suc­cess of a com­pany? Sarah, Auck­land

A It’s the first of many or­gan­i­sa­tion shuf­fles that you’ll need to do and it’s ac­tu­ally less im­por­tant than you think. In the very short term, you’ll want to struc­ture the com­pany around key peo­ple, mak­ing sure they can han­dle the growth of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. As you grow, you’ll iden­tify more key peo­ple you need and with an ever-ex­pand­ing busi­ness it’s rel­a­tively easy to move re­spon­si­bil­i­ties around.

Try to be log­i­cal in the di­vi­sion of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and don’t be afraid of pro­mot­ing peo­ple from within – they’re usu­ally ca­pa­ble of a lot more than you (or they) think.

The founders in par­tic­u­lar should take the bur­den of flex­i­bil­ity and the CEO should be con­stantly seek­ing to shift their own re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. From my ex­ten­sive for­mal and in­for­mal study of or­gan­i­sa­tional de­sign I’ve re­alised that there is no one an­swer and the right thing to do is to pe­ri­od­i­cally flip the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

AC­TI­VAT­ING HATE

Q We’ve got a vo­cal fac­tion mak­ing waves and I think they’re wrong, but they’re pow­er­ful. What can you do to shut down (or slow down) share­holder ac­tivism?. Melissa, Dunedin

A There are three ap­proaches here: ar­riv­ing at a con­sen­sus ap­proach, in­vok­ing le­gal threats and leav­ing the sit­u­a­tion. Quite ob­vi­ously, only one of th­ese is truly ef­fec­tive and the ques­tion is how to bring con­sen­sus about.

I find the only real way is to get all of the key play­ers in a room, add enough in­ter­nal peo­ple who know the space and are re­spected and mix in an ex­ter­nal face or two to en­sure good be­hav­iour.

Break the group into smaller, mixed groups and take them though a jour­ney that starts with the fu­ture, touches on end user needs ( prefer­ably through in­ter­views), mis­sion, vi­sion and val­ues and ends with over­ar­ch­ing long- and short-term strat­egy and pri­or­i­ties.

A well-fa­cil­i­tated ses­sion will ar­rive at an an­swer, but more im­por­tantly, con­sen­sus around it. I’ve found all par­ties have some­thing to learn from oth­ers in the room, but that end user ex­pe­ri­ences have to drive the over­all di­rec­tion.

Now that in­vok­ing op­tion is only re­ally avail­able to the CEO and board, so if you’re more ju­nior, you have to be more sub­tle. Try to un­der­stand the lan­guage the key share­hold­ers are speak­ing and there­fore their per­spec­tive. Cre­ate a pre­sen­ta­tion that speaks to them in their lan­guage and shows how their di­rec­tion is good, but that the con­sen­sus di­rec­tion is bet­ter for the com­pany. The share­hold­ers might think they own the com­pany, and they do, but they do not con­trol the com­pany. That power rests with the board of di­rec­tors and their obli­ga­tion is to act in the best in­ter­est of the com­pany, not of the share­hold­ers. If they’re not dong so, for­get about the law­suit, un­less you are a sub­stan­tial share­holder your­self, and start look­ing for a new gig.

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