When embarking on a relationship with a services firm, they need to be able to concretely tell you where they provide value and where they don’t. This is our story of how we came up with that answer.
Hi, my name’s Sean Campbell and I’m the CEO of Cascade Insights. In this video, I want to tell you a little bit about our history, and specifically I want to tell you about our history through the lens of a single question and its answer. And that question is, what don’t you do? And the reason why I think this question and its answer is so critical when you embark on any relationship with a services firm is that if that services firm can’t tell you where they provide value and where they don’t, where you should put ’em on the playing field and then you shouldn’t put ’em on the playing field – how do you have any prayer at all of figuring that out from the outside?
And that’s why I think an organization needs to be able to answer this question pretty concretely. And our journey to answer this question took a little while. So back in 2007 when we were founding Cascade Insights, we were coming off the successful sale of our first company, and our first company had just predominantly worked with Microsoft and Intel.
We had a smattering of other accounts. But we were pretty beholden to just Microsoft and Intel and Scott Swaggart and I, the two co-founders of Cascade Insights, we decided that we wanted to be broader than that. We didn’t want to just be focused on the needs of a few organizations. We wanted to work with multiple verticals and multiple company types and all kinds of things like that.
So that’s what we did. So for about 12 to 24 months, we not only worked with Microsoft and Intel. But we worked with the likes of 3M and Exxon and Merck, and a whole variety of companies, and we had a lot of fun traveling the world doing so, but it also taught us a lesson. That if we weren’t quick to define what we didn’t do, if we didn’t start to put bounds on who we were, we were gonna be so broad in terms of our knowledge base, that we would start to lose a lot of value.
Because I came to fundamentally believe that a consultant’s value is driven mostly by their ability to talk to you about organizations they know that are like yours. It’s not driven by, as is sometimes stated, the number of organizations they know that aren’t like yours, as if that provides some kind of broader context.
Organizations are so complex on their own that if you’re not talking to someone who understands organizations like yours, you’re already kind of outta luck in some ways in terms of getting meaningful insight with that organization. So we had to decide very quickly. What were we not going to do?
Who were we not gonna serve? And from our context, and our experience, we basically decided we were gonna define that pretty simply as we weren’t gonna work with B2C organizations. We weren’t gonna work with organizations that weren’t technology firms. We were gonna work with B2B technology organizations.
And that left us a wide playing field to work with, much broader than of course just Microsoft and Intel. And upon that initial decision that really fundamental answer to the question, what won’t we do? We built the keystone for what became a very firm foundation, and since the last 15 years or so, since making that decision, we’ve been fortunate to build a growing and healthy company and bring in a lot of talented people that have helped us grow.
And I would just say in closing that if you don’t have an ability to answer that question today, or worse yet, if you’ve never considered it as an organization, what don’t we do? Today’s the day to ask that question and quickly come up with an answer.
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