Reinventing Our Business

Aug. 31, 2016

A key part of our messaging to the wider world is how we’re in the unique position of having 30 years’ experience in the industry—yet we’re a start-up. But: why make such a big deal about being a start-up? You can understand how customers would value the experience part of our proposition—but what value could they possibly place on us being a start-up? After all: the size of the companies and organizations we typically work with would, if anything, likely be somewhat nervous about entrusting multi-million dollar, multi-year business in a mission-critical space to a brand new company.

The great—and, for me, really exciting—aspect of thinking like a start-up is the ethos of continuous reinvention around improving how we deliver to customers…at every touchpoint of the relationship. As a stand-alone company we have untethered ability to do just that—take the foundation we inherited from our prior life and tune it/change it/focus it on the needs of customers building mission-critical solutions for harsh environments.

The second aspect of start-up culture we have adopted has to do with working together towards outcomes that matter to customers. In my experience, the larger the business, the harder you have to fight a tendency for the organization to become internally focused and lose sight of who it is trying to serve. So: we’re placing a ton of emphasis on ensuring everyone at Abaco understands the outcomes that matter.


Driving to outcomes works best when we look at things between the functions. I saw a video a while back featuring Apple CEO Tim Cook and one thought stuck with me…He said something along the lines of: “The real magic happens between the functions, when we come together towards a common goal.” To which I’d add: “contributing our own dimension of expertise.” We’re working hard at making that magic between the functions happen at Abaco!

Does it work?…Quick anecdote. I was talking to Ken, one of our engineering managers, the other day. We were on the phone, chatting about engineering’s role and I mentioned that, in my eyes, engineering was not in the business of designing product but in the business of shipping product (a quote I first heard Steve, our VP for Operations use).

What happened next was cool. There was zero energy applied to defending “the way we do it.” Rather, Ken and the local team in Towcester quickly engaged with the operations team with an eye towards learning how engineering could help make it easier to ship product. Our customers will benefit from this renewed sense of focus and speed, and our jobs become more fun as well.

So: we’re working this continuous balance—adjusting with speed where we need to, and ensuring our changes become “sticky” by leveraging our process capability and the maturity/experience of our team. It’s a fun journey.

The metrics we track say we’re getting better. But: we’re all aware that we have a long way to go before we can call ourselves the company we want to be. I get the feeling we are going to continue to move the goalposts and set the bar higher as we conquer every roadblock along the way.

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