Allan Boyle of Saltwater Consulting held an IPBN Master Class entitled "How to Scale Your Business Efficiently" on October 12, 2021, in which he presented his wealth of knowledge in the sector through his own career history, his consulting strategy, and a case study. To begin, he started with a personal story.
Boyle introduced attendees to Matthew, who he called a serial entrepreneur in South Africa who was a customer of Boyle’s in cloud computing and later became a friend. While on a mountain biking trip together up one of the steepest mountain passes on the Cape Peninsula, Allan rushed ahead to get a jump on his more advanced biking companions and quickly burned out. Matthew told Boyle, “You need to get out of the granny gear (meant to make light work of steep climbs). You can come back to the gear as a fall-back, but you need to start getting comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Fast forward to the beginning of 2018 in Ireland, Boyle began building an international language support team and running the critical escalation management and web services business for Amazon.com, which was a fascinating experience.
A little while later, Boyle’s friend Matthew lost a battle to cancer at the age of 45, and Boyle happened to be in South Africa and was able to go with a group of cyclists to go up the same steep pass in his honor. Boyle remembered his friend’s words and decided to break out on his own saying, “I realized I needed to get out of big tech, get uncomfortable, and start a business teaching people to become operationally efficient.”
Boyle asked participants if they had experienced any of the following things before: if founders are sharing roles and responsibilities, if individual contributors being promoted into management roles without training, if hiring is an HR problem and isn’t managed by teams, if priorities are centered around those who shout the loudest, if sales teams are disconnected from production teams, if there are gaps in skills, if there are too many long and unproductive meetings, or if leadership teams are too busy putting out fires instead of focusing on what’s really important.
In essence, Boyle says that these challenges are easiest to overcome once you re-set company priorities and streamline long-term goals company-wide. Disconnections within a company and time and money spent in the wrong channels can be detrimental to final results while important data is lost in the shuffle.
To further illustrate this point, Boyle introduced a case study in which he produced the Saltwater Consulting approach of “think, design, and implement.” “There’s a mapping stage where you start thinking through…understand the problem…before deciding what the solution is.” Boyle likes to do the implementation himself to make sure the final design gets implemented properly. The plan he came up with for this scenario was to meet and observe each team, develop a team charter, implement metrics and weekly reporting mechanisms, have an ongoing review and course correction, and roll out other parts to the business.
Boyle went through each category and further illustrated his approach to ticking off each box of his strategy in order to “set the sights and take that long-term vision and break it down,” as he put it. He shared the mission statements of the BBC, Tesla, and Google, to show the importance of driving company strategy with the help of a simple phrase. He then showed a company talent chart, mapping what the employee structure looks like now and what it will look like in the future in order for a company to scale well. The chart ensures that things get crisper when it comes to the roles and responsibilities of each employee and shows the gaps in specialist roles necessary for proper growth.
Tenets within the company are also an important thing to look at when it comes to company culture. This fosters easy communication and helps companies move on the right track toward organizing their operational playbooks. Boyle says, “Documenting processes is vital. Everything is measured…it shows how the team does what it does…and shows what the next steps are…and the leader can get a full perspective.” This, in turn, fosters achievable goal-setting, honest KPIs, and on-point reporting. “The system is only as good as what you put in,” Boyle says before he asks, “Are you stuck in granny gear?