Since our inception in 2008, Act-On has been on a path of extreme growth, and has scaled to be a global company with seven offices and over 350 employees. In the process, we had developed many micro-cultures across our locations. That’s common in many global companies, but with our rapid growth we didn’t have the time to stop and reflect on the intentional culture we wanted to create. While we had firmly outlined our customer values, we hadn’t explicitly defined our own internal values and culture. In order to continue on this path of growth and success, we knew we must define who we are, who we want to be, and what we believe in as a company.
Time for ACTION!
When our CEO Andy MacMillan started in 2015, he brought with him a methodology to define and prioritize our annual company strategy and execution plan that we now call our ACTION Plan. It includes defining the following areas each year:
A = Aspiration (our vision for the year)
C = Convictions (what matters to us)
T = Themes (the core priorities we are focused on)
I = Involving (who’s involved in making it happen?)
O = Obstacles (what could get in our way of success?)
N = Numbers (what metrics matter?)
Andy developed Act-On’s first ACTION Plan in 2016 which cascaded down to the management level, and then further down, asking each employee to develop an individual plan that aligns with the company’s plan. What we found was that Andy and most employees took the time to define their own individual Aspirations and Convictions for the year rather than simply subscribing to a company wide vision.
A United Front: Getting Alignment
When I, Susy Dunn – Chief People Officer, joined the company, I focused on getting to know our business and culture. It soon became clear to me that each office had its own unique culture and many interpreted, or operated, with their own set of values. With the amount of change the company had experienced in the past 18 months, we were going through an identity crisis and employees craved a cohesive culture. We wanted to know what the company stood for, and if our understanding of our culture had changed. Alongside the People Team, I led us through a grassroots effort to define Act-On’s Convictions so we could have an aligned vision of what’s important, and what we stand for.
Starting in November 2016 with a broad group of leaders and executives we began brainstorming what each individual believed our convictions are or should be. Using this as a starting point, we then had a company-wide brainstorm session where every employee in the company was able to add their ideas to this growing list. We used Post-It notes in each office and gathered ideas throughout the months of December and January. Here are some of the walls from our offices: