SenSat | Why you should always put people at the heart of the business

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Why you should always put people at the heart of your business 

 

A great company should create an environment that inspires people to deliver their best work, where everyone works hard, achieves big and collectively shares the rewards of that. But how can you create such an environment?

James Dean

8.01.2019 // 4 minute read

 

Startups are a roller coaster. It’s never an easy ride, and it won’t always be fun, but it will always be a great one. I think sometimes you even run so fast you forget just how far you have come and how incredible some of the things are that you have achieved.

In 2018 SenSat:

  • doubled in size

  • achieved 300%+ revenue growth

  • flew a world record breaking 12km BVLOS

  • raised the largest seed round in Europe

  • were ranked the #1 AI company in Europe

  • won contracts with 26 $1bn+ revenue companies
     

So, how did we get there? What makes a company great? It's people! They make the difference.

 

Every other competitor out there has the same MacBooks (or Hi-Vis vests) the same amount of time, the same amount of funding, the same access to mentors, the same ideas. The only thing you have that your competitors don't is each other - and you should encourage yourselves to be the best you can be each day.

But how can you do that?

 

Over the Christmas break I managed to read 'Good to Great', a book talking about how good companies become great companies. Jim Collins talks about a few concepts I recognise in ourselves at SenSat (and some I think we can all be better at adopting)...

Leadership

 

Firstly, leaders drive transformation from good to great. At SenSat, ‘leaders’ does not mean senior management, it means every single one of us taking a leadership attitude.

 

Great leaders are not only excellent individuals, team members, managers and leaders, but also single-mindedly ambitious on behalf of the company. At the same time, they remain humble. They are fanatically driven toward results, and want their company to continue performing even after they leave. When people treat the business as their own (it is - they own a portion of it) and come to work every day in 2019 as a business owner, they will show intense determination and profound humility.

First Who, Then What

Secondly, the right people in the right place are the foundation of greatness. Good-to-great companies focused more on finding people with the right character traits rather than professional abilities, reasoning that the right people can always be trained and educated:

 

"With the right people, companies did not need to worry about how to motivate them. They focused on who they paid, not how they paid, and created an environment where hard workers thrived and lazy workers left. In top management, people either jumped right off or stayed for the long run. Good-to-great companies never hired the wrong person even if the need was dire, but hired as many right people as were available, even without specific jobs in mind for them.

 

When good-to-great companies did see they had the wrong person, they acted immediately. They would either get rid of them or try to cycle them to a more suitable position. Delaying dealing with the wrong people only frustrates the rest of the organisation."

 

As a co-business owner, you want the best people being the best at what they do in the world for your company. In fact, you won't settle for anything less. You want an environment where everyone works hard, achieves big and collectively shares the rewards of that.

 

That’s why, at SenSat, we make sure to create an environment consisting of people who share the same values and mindset:

 

  • We are fundamentally interested in what we do; our work is a priority in our lives

  • We want to be the best in the world at our jobs

  • We are can do people who see the glass half full

Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith)

Thirdly you will definitely most often get it wrong. Success requires confronting the nasty facts, while never losing faith. You must create (and maintain) an environment where the brutal facts are aired without hesitation. You need to be better at challenging one another. You need to have more disciplined thinking. You need to be better at learning from your mistakes (it is the best way to learn) and encouraging open and honest feedback.

Collins outlines a four-step process to promote awareness of potential problems: 1) Lead with questions, not answers; 2) Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion; 3) Conduct autopsies without blame; and 4) Build red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored.

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