I'm Halli. AMA.

over 2 years ago from Haraldur Thorleifsson, Founder at Ueno.

  • Matthew Hollingsworth, over 2 years ago

    Hey Halli! Thanks for being here : -)

    What does success look like for you and your team? Has that changed since you started? If so -- how?

    1 point
    • Haraldur ThorleifssonHaraldur Thorleifsson, over 2 years ago

      This is from an internal presentation that I did recently. It (mostly) answers your question:

      We evaluate success through what we call the 3 P's.

      When you are branding something it’s always good to have a super dumbed down version of your idea. That way even dumb people can remember it.

      So we’re calling this the 3 P’s. What are the 3 P’s you are probably wondering? Well, you are in luck because I’m just about to tell you.

      The 3 P’s are Projects, People, Profits.

      And it’s very important to note the order here. First there are Projects. Second there are People. And third there are Profits.

      Each one of these are important to our success but when we need to prioritize we want to put the projects number one. People second. And profits last.


      Now, let’s dissect this further.

      First there are Projects.

      As I said before, we tried to dumb this down and to make this work all the words had to start with P. We could have called this Work. But then this presentation would have to be called the 2 P’s and one W. And that’s just not catchy enough.

      So we called it Projects even though that’s not 100% the right word.

      What we mean by Projects here is our output. The things we create.

      And as you know we create all sorts of things.

      We’ve hired a lot of amazingly great people. And what you have in common is that you are proud of your work. You want to make things, but not just that, you want to create great things.

      But that also needs some sort of qualifier. What is great work?

      We create a lot of nice things. Most of them are beautiful. Many of them move nicely. We often win awards. Does that, by itself, mean that the work is great? Surprise twist. No. It doesn’t.

      A great project is a project that solves the problem. It achieves the business goal, whatever that might be.

      It can still, and in most cases should, look nice, but much more importantly it needs to solve the problem it was meant to solve. If it doesn’t then it’s a failure. No matter how many awards it wins.

      Improving the quality and success of our work is a never ending process. We are continuously improving all our processes with the aim of creating better output.

      One key thing I can mention is that we are adding strategy as a core discipline to most if not all of our projects. We are planning 4 strategy hires just this year.

      We are also continuously improving our new business process, better scoping our work, better planning, etc etc etc etc.

      So to wrap up the first P. The most important thing we do is Projects. The success of our work is numero Ueno.

      We believe that if we create successful work for our clients we will be successful. It’s as simple as that.

      The second P is People.

      That means all of us here. And to clarify. When we say people we are just talking about our people. Other people, including our clients and their customers, fall into the first P.

      Don’t worry, this will all make sense (I hope).

      So, again, the second P is our People. Our second priority is that our People are successful.

      But that also needs a qualifier. What does it mean to be successful as a people at Ueno?

      There are many things we could focus on. Happiness for example. Are our people happy? That sounds like a good metric, no?

      Actually no. Surprise twist again! It doesn’t. While we want you to be happy, happiness by itself is not the metric we want to use.

      We want to focus on your growth. How fast are you growing, are you growing in the right directions. Are you learning new skills? Are you deepening the skills you already have. And that’s why a metric like happiness is not good. Growth is always a little bit uncomfortable.

      It’s hard. It’s pushing yourself. It’s living outside your comfort zone. Obviously not too far, but as far as possible without becoming too painful.

      That’s what we want for you. That’s what we want to offer our people. The environment, opportunities and challenges that facilitates your growth.

      We can’t force it on you. You are going to be the one that steps up and takes on these challenges. But we want to give them to you and help you as much as we can.

      This year we are doing a number of things to help both chart and facilitate this growth. I want to mention two things.

      Number one we are finally getting very close to finalizing a leveling chart for our major disciplines.

      What does leveling mean you ask like an idiot (I actually had no idea until fairly recently). But leveling is clearly defining what each role entails. So for example. What’s the difference between a senior developer and tech director? How are their skills and responsibilities different?

      Very soon we’ll be able to answer that seemingly simple but ultimately extremely complicated question.

      It won’t be a perfect answer, but it will give you guidance on what you need to master to qualify for the next level.

      The second thing we are doing is creating a management and leadership program.

      Many of our managers, including me, have not had formal training on how to become managers.

      And while they are smart and great people that have learned this themselves we want to help them a bit more.

      So we are engaging with external advisors that will help us create and roll out a Ueno specific management and leadership program that all our managers will go through.

      This will be an ongoing effort but the first plan is to do this over the next year and then assuming it goes well we will do this forever and ever.

      This will affect all of us even though not everyone will directly participate. As you know a great manager can make your life a whole lot better.

      And a poor manager, well, they can do the opposite.

      So I’m very excited to start that process and while it isn’t a magical solution I believe it will have a great impact on the whole company.

      So again, to wrap up the 2nd P is People, more specifically our People. All of you here.

      We want you to succeed, we want to invest in you and most specifically we want to invest in your growth. Both in your craft and skills but also in you as people.

      We want to help you grow as fast and as well as possible. It won’t be easy and it’s a never ending process but we want you to look back at who you were a year ago and be amazed at how much you’ve grown. Now, the third P.

      The third P is Profits. It’s in third place because we believe that the profits will only come if we nurture the first two P’s, the Projects and the People.

      Making money is not the ultimate goal of this company. It is however a necessary element. If we don’t continue to be profitable we can’t increase salaries, we can’t sustain our benefits, we can’t invest in new opportunities and so on.

      Money unfortunately does make the world go around so we need to make sure we run a healthy and profitable business.

      So the third P is Profits.

      And to improve the bottom line we’ve added two wonderful EPs, we’ve created budgets, we’re paying much better attention to how our projects are run and so on.

      And the results of that work is already showing with the business being in better health than ever before with more improvements coming this year and next.

      We have to make a lot of decisions every day and by thinking about our 3 P’s through this lens we can be more consistent. We can make better choices.

      Just to keep banging this in, the three P’s in order are 1. Projects 2. People 3. Profits

      This means that we will prioritize the quality of our work over everything else. We will put our people second and profits last.

      Before I wrap up I do want to say that despite this prioritization we can’t simply ignore the 2nd or 3rd P.

      We can’t create sustained periods of time where our people are working over time, or go wildly over budget on every project just to achieve great work. That’s not sustainable.

      We want to create great work but that can’t happen if our people leave because they are overworked and we can’t pay their salaries.

      Ok, so those were the three P’s.

      It’s a tool we are using to make decisions. Like any tool it can be used in good and bad ways. It’s not the only tool we have but it is an important tool. It will take time for us to figure out the best way to use this tool but I’m already seeing it being used to great effect by some of our people.

      Our aim is that through this lens we will make the work we do become even better than it is.

      18 points