A third age that’s built on great people

Explore Assurity 29 June 2016 Darren McTigue

In today's world where the intersect between business and technology increases – and both parts need the other to succeed – how we create a new business model and find new ways to lead and engage people through this journey becomes more and more important.

What does a modern consultancy look like? What should (or could) it feel like to be part of this? What would this mean for its customers and staff? Looking at our own business and how we’ve evolved and grown, I’ll try and capture what the journey has been like for us and where we’re heading. It's been a great voyage so far and, with good navigation, a calm hand on the wheel and fair winds, we should go places that others simply fail to reach.

Our first voyage – modernise the core

When we started the company, we had a clear vision of what we wanted to achieve. Our ambition was to build a company of passionate people, who are experts in quality and could help lead our customers to ‘improve the health of their software’.  

To achieve this, we had to be very focused on people, ensuring that they had great energy, enthusiasm to lead and a real passion for quality. One of the key things we did early on was to ensure we led through initiatives like our Graduate Programme, new leading-edge partnerships and a flat structure focused on customer and staff needs above our own.

Our second voyage – transforming to new ways of working

Our second strategy was born out of the frustration of constantly being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.  

We had grown a great company that specialised in quality. However, we kept on finding that, although we implemented better, more robust processes and technology to help improve software quality, that fundamentally the upstream ways of working were broke.

Being downstream, we had lots of mess dumped on us to try and find ways to fix. So we embarked on a new journey to not only deliver quality software, but also to help customers do this better and in a way which improved the outcomes of software.  

Our new focus was on quality software, delivered at speed and without any ambulances needed at the bottom of cliffs.  

To achieve this, we focused on wanting to be leaders in helping NZ companies find new ways to work and adopt and use Agile techniques as these were clearly the way forward. We recognised that we needed to find ways to help lead and educate the market. Pockets of Agile practices existed that were led by passionate individuals in the market. However, creating an organisation at scale that could invest was something we felt was needed to give the customer the confidence to try. This led to us creating an Education practice, as well as a national Conference focused on helping lift the knowledge in the market.  

We needed to build an Agile coaching and mentoring business across NZ, as well as find and hire the best talent we could.  

As early leaders in this space, we did however have our challenges and found that – over time – we created a two-culture consultancy (the old way and the new way) which increasingly became a concern.

Our third voyage

We have always known that to create good software, you need to do this with quality built in, at speed and in a way that’s engaged and relevant for what the business wanted. 

Our third voyage for me is a true reflection of what we have always held dear to us. Our values. As the world changes and digital disrupts our customers, the way they operate and the environments which they operate in, constantly coming back to our values will ensure we remain relevant and successful. In a nutshell, our values are centred on five key areas which have not changed over Assurity’s 11 years…

We want to lead. We want to delight our customers. We want to challenge the status quo. We value potential. And very importantly, we care.

This last value for me captures all. If we care that our customers are successful, if we care that our staff grow, if we care for community and growth and about the world we’re heading into, then we will always find new ways of innovating, new learnings, new friends and partners and new, rewarding experiences with our customers.

In the same way that sailing a boat offshore needs good equipment, skilled navigation and eyes on the weather, we live in a world where, no matter if it's IT, business, modernising the core, transforming or innovation, these are all made successful through people. And finding ways to inspire, challenge, lead and care for great people is what will – for me – continue to build a great consultancy.