“The energy felt by the leadership team post completion of the strategy building was tangible”
Silicon Reef was founded by 5 friends, all talented independent professionals, who had been successfully creating and delivering Sharepoint solutions to large corporates. Their alignment on the best way to create value for the customers, their shared values on how to work, and their trust in each other’s capabilities and quality meant it was only a matter of time before they decided to get together and create a company based on those commonalities.
To quote Giles, the co-MD “Our own personal experiences of long daunting commutes, awful bureaucratic processes and hierarchical company structures lead us to have a desire to be different and to explore how new tech could solve these problems. We wanted to create a company that solved a problem that is at the core of what we do, because – why not?”
What emerged is a company dedicated to creating human-focussed tech solutions, and which itself respected the balance of the lives of its employees.
The Reef had reached a stage where it was gaining traction beyond its initial customer base, but as the founders hadn’t previously run a company, and their ambitions were for a different kind of company that respected its team as much as it did its clients, they wanted to look for someone who’d been down that road to act as an adviser as they transitioned.
In the first (pub!) meeting between co-MD, Giles Court and Iyas, Iyas talked through his experience building a commercially successful consultancy / agency which had clearly lived human values at its heart, and how he had subsequently been advising others to do the same. And it was on that basis that Giles asked Iyas to lift the bonnet and undertake a forward-looking diagnostic on the biggest areas of opportunity for the Reef.
Fast forward a year, and with Iyas working alongside the leadership team, Silicon Reef has implemented more than 60% of those initial recommendations, demonstrating both the relevance of the recommendations, and the team’s ability to execute on them. Key amongst those has been:
- Introducing new way to get strategy done (including template processes and agendas to make it real);
- Defining and clarifying roles and responsibilities for leadership team;
- A focus on the mix of the team between permanent employees and contractors to improve profitability and gel the team more, while treating contractors as part of the extended family;
- Introducing a way to implement continuous improvement, including shaping post implementation reviews;
- Injecting energy and structure into how to manage and lead the organisation as it rapidly scaled up;
- Helping clarify product and solution offering positioning;
- Shaping and adding realism into the many ideas and initiatives that the leadership team wanted to implement, such as clarity and roadmap for moving to a pod structure;
- Assisting on commercial preparation where needed;
- Helping to make the values more tangible.
As an unexpected benefit, Iyas also made a number of introductions, including to potential investors, clients and employees, some of which have translated to longer term relationships, and all of which came as warm introductions due to the relationships that Iyas had built.
In summary, Iyas provided general mentoring and advice on a variety of topics relating to growing an agency, structure for scaling in a way aligned with the Reef’s values and culture, and backup for making some hard decisions that the team probably knew it had to make!
As Silicon Reef’s leadership looked out over their amassed team at the end of the year, it felt like a very different company than a year before. That they delivered great solutions and had deeply human values was never in doubt. But they were now seeing it translate to an organisation which was significantly larger, more deeply rooted in its values, structure and leadership, and with a brand that was already attracting quality staff independently of any recruitment outreach.
The organisation had grown significantly in revenue (27%), customer base (60%) and team size (80%). Most importantly, though, the leadership team, although recognising that this is a journey that will continue for some time, has clarity on direction and values, and has been able to translate this into how the team works on a daily basis.
And done it in a very human way.