Watch Allan and Angus talk about the new model of IT consultancies.
Watch Victoria and Allan talk about why design can go wrong and how to avoid the pitfalls. Read the transcript below.
One thing I see very frequently is UX happens in the beginning, development happens second. And so you do the interview, you do the research, you do the user stories, you have the design, give it to the developer, you walk away and you work on something else.
Now in real life, things change when they get developed so, you would have the journey and you would have all of the principles imbedded in that however, you would start working on one of features making sure that's up to scratch, having the screens, the-the designs and then passing on data onto development and you don't walk away because what I find, more often than not, the developer goes we can do ninety percent but this ten percent it's not really feasible so we would go oh, right let's rethink this so you can tackle this right there and then so you can come up with a better solution. Sometimes the solution is actually better than what you originally came up with. And so you tackle that there, everything becomes unblocked and you can start working on-, on other things. So you have design check-ins.
Victoria's right. That's exactly like, what happens is-is-is sometimes, you know, th--I think any business where there is silos, you're going to have challenges. Um, if you're not thinking about cross functional and the way make cross functional work. Um, it's very easy to go, 'well, let's just stay in solitude, feel safe and secure and we'll have designers a thing over here and we'll make the best design possible and then we'll have this development over here and the best development possible'. Because cross functional is too hard. If you think cross functional is too hard, you--like you really have not been working in the industry long enough because the idea is if you--you have to make that process work if you want to get the agility and the, and the flexibility that Victoria's described.
I think any business that is still holding onto um, either ivory towers or the way in each of those disciplines without factoring in the results of the other--of any other discipline, that's when it really falls apart.
Kablamo co-CEO and Founder, Allan Waddell, recently appeared in MyBusiness to talk about the experience of going from solo to co-CEO. Full story below or you can read it on MyBusiness
It’s said to be lonely at the top when running a business, but as this business owner explains, appointing a co-CEO can be a beneficial way of positioning the company, and oneself, for growth.
Allan Waddell (pictured, left) founded Kablamo, a cloud software development firm, in May 2017, having previously built and sold another business. And, as he admits, he naturally gravitated towards the actual work of the business more than the running of the business itself, especially managing its finances.
For a mixture of business and personal reasons, he decided not to continue running Kablamo alone. So, mid last year, he took the plunge and appointed a co-CEO, Angus Dorney.
My Business spoke with Mr Waddell to find out why he took this approach, whether it has been worthwhile and what insights he can share from his journey so far.
Why did you decide to take on a co-CEO?
Someone wise once said to me, “You’ll be happiest at work when you are kicking goals doing what you do well”. Having already built and sold another consulting business, I knew what my strengths were, but most importantly I knew where I needed support.
When it comes to the technical, product development and sales sides of the business, I’m completely in my element. But I always knew I’d feel more comfortable if I had someone handling the financial and operations aspects of Kablamo.
That’s what makes Angus such a perfect fit; I come up with the ideas and he executes them.
How long did it take you to make that decision?
In the past, I’ve been bitten by having too much undeserved confidence in my leadership team, so since starting Kablamo, I have been aligning myself with mentors and leaders whom I’d one day think could make the leap from mentor to business partner.
Angus is someone I’ve known and respected for a long time, and we were both considering the opportunity for more than a year.
What fears did you have about the move, and how have/are you allaying those fears?
Leadership, and leader change, makes a team nervous. The Kablamo team is made up of incredibly smart people, but smart people naturally have a great deal of self-awareness, which can go hand in hand with self-doubt.
Bringing highly skilled and experienced oversight can sometimes trigger defensive behaviour and fear. Because of this, I didn’t expect the team to trust a new leader immediately, but with Angus, I already knew he would be a great fit culturally, so I could see trust on the horizon.
Did you hunt more widely for the ideal candidate before making the appointment?
I knew Kablamo would benefit from having someone drive the operational side of the business.
Having known Angus for sometime, he was always at the top of my list to share the helm with me at Kablamo — not only is he a great human being, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone with the wealth of experience he has.
He was a perfect fit, both in terms of his skills and how he fit into Kablamo culturally.
What has having a co-CEO enabled you to do so far that you would have been restricted from by flying solo?
Personally, the biggest benefits of having Angus as co-CEO is that I now have more time and our team has more executive skills.
While leading Kablamo by myself, I was in charge of everything — from business management, HR and sales to account management and operations.
Having Angus oversee the operations and financial side of Kablamo gives me more time to focus on building our vision — both from a business and product standpoint — as well as ensuring our culture is second to none.
What challenges have you faced in terms of decision-making and lines of authority, both from employees, clients and even between yourselves?
I anticipated some teething issues with bringing on a new leader, but the key to making this transition run as smoothly as possible was transparency. I was completely honest and up front with the team about why I was bringing Angus on board, and what responsibilities he would have in the business.
Equally, Angus and I clearly defined between ourselves how we would divide the CEO role.
Of course, at the start there were times when it was difficult to hand over control, but by communicating clearly and frequently, we’ve been able to solidify the relationship. When it comes to clients, Angus is well known and highly respected throughout the industry, so he was embraced almost instantly.
What challenges have arisen specifically because of the co-CEO model?
I won’t lie, the co-CEO model did take some getting used to. While I was leading Kablamo myself, I had the final say in everything and my decisions were largely made without scrutiny. With Angus, I now have eyeballs on me and my decisions, which I never had in the past.
While this was the whole idea of moving to the co-CEO model, the change from autonomy to observation was abrupt.
The key to addressing this, we’ve found, is clear and constant communication — if one of us doesn’t agree with the decision the other has made, we discuss it. We don’t let disagreements or clashes of opinion fester.
What advice would you give to other business leaders about the co-CEO model?
This model isn’t for everyone. If by nature you have counter-dependency issues, this power-sharing model will end your happiness.
There are a few key things to keep in mind if you want to explore the co-CEO model.
The first is to have a prior relationship with whoever you’re considering. If you already know much about how they work and how you each get along, you’ll have a greater insight into how the model will work in practice — without this, you’re basically crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
Second, communication is absolutely critical. I can’t stress this enough. You both need to know exactly where you stand, and the only way to achieve this is to speak with each other frankly and frequently.
Finally, sharing for sharing’s sake will inevitably lead to complications. You must have clearly defined realms of responsibility. There will naturally be some overlap, but if you’re absolutely clear on what parts of the business fall under whose control, then each CEO is empowered to own their part.
Today, I join a special group of people who are creating a truly amazing company. In a short period of time, Allan Waddell and his team at Kablamo have built a strong reputation in the Australian cloud marketplace – they’re known for delivering high impact customer outcomes, making Agile more than just a buzzword, and for being some of Australia’s smartest cloud and application engineers.
In short, Kablamo is a leader in a new generation of cloud application partners.
Most enterprise IT service providers say people are their most important asset, but very few practice what they preach. They talk about delivering outcomes for customers but end up only delivering big invoices. They claim to put the customer at the core of their delivery, but don’t take time to really understand their customers’ needs and match these needs with relevant and modern service offerings. In every case, Kablamo is different.
And people are taking notice.
It isn’t often that you get a chance to be a part of the next big thing. I believe Kablamo is that next big thing. In less than two years, Kablamo already counts some of Australia’s largest organisations as customers. Kablamo’s team are execution engineers, “black ops” code warriors who deliver and educate, working on site with customers and enabling their organisations to move faster via the speed and quality of delivery. This combination of getting important things done securely and rapidly, whilst investing their customers with lasting cloud knowledge, means customer teams inherit the capabilities they need to make the most of cloud. The reputation for delivering, for guiding customers along their cloud journey, is the reason such an impressive list of enterprises already work with Kablamo.
When I spend time with Kablamo people, I see common traits of humility, accountability, curiosity, creativity and bravery. I see values that align with my own and values upon which we can build a truly world class business.
Today is another step forward in Kablamo’s journey to reshape what customers expect from their technology and cloud partners.
I am honoured and grateful for the opportunity to partner with Allan, as Co-Chief Executive Officers of Kablamo, and to take this young organisation forward on an exciting mission. I look forward to working with many of the people I have met on my journey so far and I equally look forward to meeting new people and organisations. I have no doubt that today marks the beginning of a fulfilling new chapter in my story, and I look forward to sharing the ride with you all.
-- Angus Dorney, Co-CEO Kablamo