Why did we do it and how did we get there?
After stepping foot in the Bay Area and opening a new office at the end of last year, we were fortunate enough to make contact with many experienced professionals that were so kind as to share with us their experiences and advice. This helped us a lot to refine our strategy, especially on the West Coast.
While we learned so much from them, I made the decision to also take a more formal approach to keep growing Making Sense. My goal is to grow the company without losing our emphasis on quality and our enthusiasm to always offer a little bit more to our clients.
I’ve always said I don’t dream of running a company of 2,000 or 3,000 employees because I don’t feel we could keep the tailored approach we want for our partners. Still, I know that after a couple of years of very significant growth for Making Sense, it was time for some reflection on how we were doing and where we are going..It was also the perfect opportunity for analyzing what could be improved in order to “Scale with Excellence”.
That’s why when we found out about this program through an email newsletter , we thought this was our chance to take our many thoughts and ideas into a more structured and guided analysis of our company. The email described a course on “Scaling Excellence”given by Stanford professionals, lead by Jerry Porras and Huggy Rao, two widely known experts in organizational behavior and authors of many books on the matter. I was really interested in that Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Latino Entrepreneur Leaders Program.
I booked three slots: one for me and two more for Nacho Caldentey and Fernando Florez, both Making Sensers.
What did we take home?
The course consisted of a series of talks, the majority given by professor Rao. There were also some interviews given by professionals and academics, some webinars and some practical exercises. Week after week, the organizers uploaded to the platform new materials and exercises so we as a company could analyze and complete them with our own ideas and perspectives.
The idea was to complete these projects by using everyday situations for growing companies. These introspective moments led us to analyze the diverse processes that occur inside of Making Sense such as the hiring process, the sales strategy, the building structure or even the meals being served!
The most important component to scaling any company is the people, so the course showed many different way we can engage and motivate people at work. We also learned what kinds of problems often lurk silently in a company. These are often overlooked, and can undermine the potential of the company by getting in the way of scalable, positive growth.
As part of the program, we were each assigned a Mentor. This is a very important part of the program and every mentor is carefully picked in order to add extra value to the content offered through the course.
We were lucky enough to get to know Jan Smith, seasoned financial payments expert and successful entrepreneur, and also a great guy! We shared with him many of the issues and concerns that arose during the initial phases of building our company. Jan was kind enough to make it to our calls no matter where in the world he was, from England to Singapore. He shared with us his experiences and views on the topics we had, always thorough and so willing to help.
The best part was that we created a bond that reached beyond the program and we’re sure we’ll keep in touch, helping each other.
What comes next?
The final event allowed us to meet many mentors and experienced entrepreneurs who shared their ideas and advice with us, and who were always willing to listen to us and offer help. I think that getting to talk face-to-face with other Latino founders who had gone through similar situations in the past is one of the highlights of the program.
For example, during the one-on-one sessions with mentors we had the chance to meet David Segura, an experienced IT professional with many years of experience. He gave us – in only 15 minutes – some great advice on avoiding common mistakes when scaling a software company. Needless to say, networking with professionals who have different areas of expertise and who come from all over the country was great, and the connections that came out of that event are highly valued by all of us.
Back home at Making Sense, we are very eager to start applying what we learned in the Stanford course. The concepts and techniques will help us to keep on improving Making Sense, paving the way for “Scaling with Excellence”.
If you want to check out the pictures of this adventure, access our Facebook Album of our Stanford experience.