IntegrationWorks is a private company, employing 120 people across seven offices in New Zealand, the UK and Australia. They integrate clients’ technology platforms enabling customers to accelerate business transformation by providing the capability to access and share information effectively.
Their objective is to be a ‘world-class technology specialist, working with world-leading organisations’; clients include the major banks, insurance companies and retailers in the UK and Australasia.
What Was The Challenge That Brought You to AGLX?
At the time of engaging with AGLX, Integration Works was in growth mode, with a particular focus on expanding its presence internationally.
Growth was bringing opportunities, but also a number of challenges, explained CEO Rob Benson. This included geographical leadership capability and delivering their global offering to scale.
There was no formal strategy and they were often tactical, meaning Rob and the team were firefighting the ‘urgent’ things in NZ, rather than dealing with ‘important’ strategic activity. This was further exacerbated by disruptions caused by COVID.
Their NZTE Customer Manager also encouraged them to develop a strategy. Rob says the team acknowledged that, to successfully grow internationally, they needed to start taking a more planned and strategic approach. They considered using one of the 'Big 4’, but felt that the traditional approach of developing a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) with an implementation roadmap seemed outmoded. They also didn’t want a strategy that sat on a shelf, but something that would help them deliver and make an impact on the business. Something that would develop and evolve as the business grew.
AGLX’s Adaptive Strategy seemed to offer a real differentiator, enabling adaption to changing environments and a flexible view of strategy development and implementation.
“Their world view aligned with ours,” Rob says.
“The tech industry is dynamic and the world continues to change, traditional approaches no longer appeared applicable and we needed ways to adapt."
What Did You Do with AGLX?
Integration Works and AGLX have developed a strategy and have worked together to upskill leadership capabilities, ensuring they have the right people, with the right skill sets for success.
Steve McCrone from AGLX initially worked with Integration Works to guide the strategy development, helping them create a ‘shared vision of success.’
This shared vision and how to move forward did not come overnight and taught the team to focus on what was important. This has led to some fundamental changes in their business model.
Prior to COVID their global growth focused on the need for in-market teams. COVID shifted thinking for many organisations and freed them to focus on ‘time-zone adjacency’ instead. This has meant they can serve multiple markets from a single-location.
The team also got used to running ‘safe-to-fail' experiments. Some of these have seen new approaches becoming part of the fabric of the organisation and “sometimes it is just learning”, Rob remarks.
For example, taking on a SAAS (software as a service) customer in the North American as a 'beachhead’ is starting to be successful and has led to further such partnerships.
Some experiments highlight that success doesn’t always come where you think, for example their expansion into Christchurch was initially about accessing new business, while the main benefit has actually been the ability to access a new talent pool.
Steve and Doug work with the team for six-monthly strategy reviews, a discipline which ensures they review and adapt to changing marketing conditions and keep focused on strategy implementation.
A Picture Tells a Thousand Words
The addition of the ‘visual strategy’ document, developed by AGLX’s Meg Cummins, enabled them to communicate clearly with employees and key customers.
“Having a pictorial of our strategy is great and has added real value to us,” says Rob.
It has helped shape conversations and share their growth pathway internally and externally, selling customers on the benefits, even if sometimes there is short term pain for them.
At the same time as implementing the new approach to strategy, Doug Maarschalk from AGLX worked with the leadership team and emerging leaders to develop capabilities around critical thinking and decision-making, including Cynefin training.
This training and development has been a really important part of the process, explains Rob.
“We have got the right people in place and we are now smarter about any new hires we make.
“This has sharpened and honed thinking across all our leaders.”
What Have Been the Outcomes of the Engagement?
Rob believes the whole experience has been of great value to Integration Works.
When he first heard of AGLX’s approach he was cynical, thinking it was going to be time-consuming, with an army of people who would not understand their industry. As soon as he met them and heard of the Adaptive Strategy approach, however, he was convinced it was right for them and says AGLX quickly added huge value to the business.
Integration Works now have the right leadership team in place, a shared view of where they are going and the skills to deliver the strategy.
They have gone from being tactical, to taking a more planned and controlled approach to their growth. In the past the growth was opportunistic and unprepared; more “boom and bust, roller coaster” than predictable and sustainable.
There is now more strategic thinking about which customers to target, which locations to focus on and what the right approach should be. This work has given them the confidence to push into multiple new markets concurrently and an understanding of how to accelerate growth. Now they think about penetrating new markets without needing bricks and mortar and people on the ground; the barriers of distance have gone.
Rob says they always look for enduring relationships and have developed one with AGLX, who they see as part of the team to help keep them on course.
Does this sound interesting?
If you would like to talk with us about how we can help your organisation build capability for an adaptive and experiment-orientated approach, then get in touch. We love working with leaders who are looking to challenge the status quo and realise fresh thinking is needed.