Act as One

I’m all about growth: growth in customers, growth in staff numbers, growth in revenue, and even personal growth. I’m a lifelong learner, always trying to expand my knowledge and capabilities. Those are the things I’m passionate about and that’s what’s driven me during my three years as CEO of JCurve Solutions (ASX: JCS).

Our growth has been underpinned by a very sharp focus on our culture and values. I think it’s fair to say that three years ago, the company had been through a difficult period and we had a lot of work to do to turn it around. Our journey started with defining JCS’s culture and values. We worked with the team to get really clear on what our core values were. Not our aspirations and not generic terms like ‘honesty’; that’s just table stakes. Culture has to go beyond that. We needed to understand the behaviors that we wanted to see in all of our staff, our DNA if you like.

So, what did we come up with?

We agreed on three core values: “Act as one”, “Above the line”, and “Make it happen”.

“Act as one” is our version of teamwork, but to us it means much more than that. It means supporting each other, helping each other, celebrating success together, and speaking with one voice.

Our journey started with defining JCS’s culture and values. We worked with the team to get really clear on what our core values were. Not (just) our aspirations… Culture has to go beyond that.

“Above the line” means our people live above the line of choice, exhibiting behaviors like accountability, ownership, and responsibility. Below the line behaviors are blame, excuse, and denial. Our values have become part of our language. Around the office you’ll hear people say, “Well, that was below the line.” What they mean is take ownership, don’t make excuses, don’t blame other people, and don’t deny when there’s a problem. Instead, own it, take responsibility, and find a solution for the issue, whatever it is.

“Make it happen” is self-explanatory. It’s about being decisive and making the call, making tough decisions, doing what we say we’re going to do, being strategic, and executing with discipline – making it happen!

These are our three core values which we committed to making real, not just words on the wall. We want to ensure they’re lived values too. We’ve all given each other permission to call each other if we don’t live the values. It doesn’t matter who you are, what title you have, whether you’ve been here a week or 10 years. If you’re not living the values, you can expect someone to call you, and that person is expected to call you on it.

We talk passionately about our values when we’re hiring people. During interviews, we’ll share them and describe the culture that’s important to us and then we make it part of the induction process. We spend a lot of time ensuring people understand how we work together, build our teams, avoid a silo mentality, and stay aligned. We work towards the same goals, measure the impact we’re having, and hold each other accountable. We make it part of everyone’s development plan and their performance management and remuneration reviews. It’s a part of assessing whether someone can be promoted into a new role. We embed it into our team meetings. That’s what living the values means to us.

It’s a point of differentiation that helps us to attract and retain top talent. Highly engaged staff are more able to deliver an awesome experience for our customers. We want our employees to be excited about coming to work and be highly engaged. That’s why we’ve focused on building a great team and a great culture. We’re certainly seeing the results come through in everyone’s employee satisfaction and in our bottom line results.

We know that our customer experience will never exceed our employee experience, so our employee experience has to be awesome.

We give our people the opportunity to grow in alignment with our strategy. The team understands where we’re going and why. We want them to understand the context of their work and what they’re doing. That ultimately translates into better customer satisfaction. It translates into happier customers, customers who will keep us on and refer other prospects to us, all of which contributes to growth and success for the organisation. In four years, we’ve gone from being loss making to being profitable with a fourfold increase in market capitalisation.

It’s a point of differentiation that helps us to attract and retain top talent. Highly engaged staff are more able to deliver an awesome experience for our customers.

We have a range of customers of all sizes but a lot of our customers are small to medium businesses. They’re emerging businesses like us. We’re listed, but we’re still a small company. We have 55 staff and we’re growing, so we understand the growing pains a lot of our customers also have, particularly the smaller ones. When they came to us they might have had an accounting-only software package and still use spreadsheets to track core aspects of the businesses like inventory, orders and customers, or a collection of unintegrated applications that were starting to creak at the seams.

So we certainly empathise with the challenges small businesses have: not having unlimited resources to apply to a solution; the challenges of uneven cash flow; time constraints. We understand what a lot of small business owners in particular are looking for, which is for their businesses to grow and for them to re-establish their work-life balance. The software solutions that we’re implementing can help them manage their business more efficiently, get them real-time access to information on how their business is performing, and identify issues before they arise. If we can give a business owner some of their work-life balance back, that’s a huge win.

JCurve Solutions is on the cusp of significant growth. We are looking to expand in terms of our product offerings and the geographies that we serve. We’ve come a long way in the last three years, and I think the next three years are going to see even more significant growth.

We’re constantly adapting and evolving. We’ve strengthened the executive team, sales, marketing, and our delivery capabilities. Now we’re starting to raise our profile. We’re set up for growth and it’s a very exciting time.