It has been an important year, with many accomplishments at KCIC. We began 2017 in strategic planning mode, and as we finish it, our eyes are turned toward moving our D.C. office to a new, larger space.
Let’s take a look at our journey this past year as a company:
As I have written before, I think about corporate health mainly as corporate clarity — being able to articulate who we are, where we are going, and what we are focusing on right now.
It is hard to exaggerate the importance of strategic planning. It codifies our dreams for the future and the specific goals we plan to achieve. After a lot of debate, our team decided on six strategic dreams around:
KCIC Product Offerings
Expanding Our Footprint and Reputation
Brand and Sales Culture
Plus, we will soon add a seventh dream around Technology.
There is a lot there, and it will take years to achieve it all. But in re-reading the plan with our Executive Team recently, it still feels on point, fresh and exciting. This is where we are heading as a company, and we know what we are focusing right now to make it happen. I also commit to continue the discipline, for better or for worse, of being transparent to the company by discussing our plans and progress at quarterly staff meetings.
Having thriving employees is our number one dream; nothing is more important. Thriving means having opportunities to continuously learn, having independence commensurate with experience, and enjoying a deep sense of context to the work we perform.
By making this our top priority and appointing a full-time resource to lead our initiatives and implementation, I am confident we are setting our company up to thrive as never before. This is going to take time; you don’t suddenly one day decide to thrive. It also takes experimentation, and most importantly, changes in attitudes and habits.
One of the places where we are making the biggest strides is in our commitment to internal training. Another is internal communications. The combination of Yammer, regular staff meetings, small groups, executive team and managers meeting three times per week, and regular management off-sites have all added to a culture and practice of more fluent internal communication, which is vital to thriving, as it helps set the context of all that we do.
Our commitment to widening the KCIC footprint — by continuing to develop new products for new practice areas — will also contribute to thriving, as we seek to offer everyone more varied opportunities to develop solutions to new client problems.
In 2017, we spent a lot of time on inward-facing projects, including our technology infrastructure, body of Ligado code, and new product development.
KCIC is a company that is deeply invested in technology. Our new technology-group structure, adopted late in 2016, served us well throughout the year. We converted our entire server infrastructure to Microsoft’s new Azure Resource Manager (ARM), moved our phone system to the more sophisticated Skype platform, and had multiple successful code releases. As we, finally, get off SharePoint, we will free up resources to support new product development.
We will see important changes in our platform-related consulting services in 2018 — leading the industry in new products, thought leadership and analysis, and just as important, continuing to invest in our core Ligado functionality, which will support our expansion.
We have also been very focused on updating our marketing collateral to reflect our latest thinking, the strategic plan, and our brand positioning. This is a lot more involved than redrafting language on a sell-sheet, and we define collateral more widely now, to include case studies, blog posts and articles. More video content is on the way. We have also adopted the practice of developing Master Messaging documents where we dive deeply into our capabilities, the market opportunity and our positioning, to provide a more consistent body of thought and messages to flow throughout the collateral on any particular practice area.
We had our highest profile conference season and, in combination with our marketing strategy, brought our brand recognition to the next level. I see this both in big and in ordinary things. A very regular part of my year was hearing clients go off the deep-end in their praise of KCIC team members they interact with on a daily basis. I also hear steady praise for the blog, which has a very devoted following. Coupled with the articles, special reports, conference speaking, and product launches, it all adds up to a strong and growing reputation for service, leadership and innovation.
The Chicago office is expanding; it now has a headcount of four and larger office space. We made some splash there with our anniversary party in September and will be seeking to specifically secure more business opportunities in the Chicago business community.
Our impending D.C. office move is on everyone’s minds. It is always a significant and exciting event to choose and design new space. For our company, it has been important that the new space reflect our values, so we have collaborated closely with an architect to ensure we have a continuous flow, flat hierarchy, ample meeting and collaboration spaces, and the best views in common areas to be shared by all. We will also have the opportunity embrace better technology into the space, especially for all-hands meetings with multiple remote participants.
The World Marathon Challenge has taken a lot of my focus, hopefully not to the detriment of the company (and perhaps to its benefit). Personally, I was very moved to see so many of our team support my cause in the Race for Every Child 5K and do some serious fundraising, too. Like me, many of you are deeply interested in philanthropy, which I encourage, and our company Social and Cares Committee enables us to express this as a corporate value. The world is a better place when we take care of one another and our neighbors.
As I look back, I can’t help but look ahead one month — to January 30. I will be standing in Novo, Antarctica, preparing to run the first of the seven marathons of the World Marathon Challenge. And I know exactly what will be going through my mind: gratitude. I will be thinking about the many things in my life for which I am grateful.
Beyond my family, I am most grateful for KCIC. But not our big or impressive achievements. No, it is the ordinary, day-to-day things: the small conversations, the meetings, the joint problem solving. I am truly grateful to belong to a community such as ours, and I will be carrying that gratitude with me.
I know that I will be about to experience some discomfort. As an endurance athlete, I always try to anticipate and embrace it. I know that extreme discomfort will manifest itself long before I reach my physical limits, but that the rewards of achieving my goals will be forever, whereas the discomfort will be quickly forgotten.
Similarly, at KCIC, I know that when I go outside my comfort zone — as a leader, speaker, salesman, or in making hard human resource decisions — that I never regret the places I go. The rewards are forever, but that discomfort is also quickly forgotten. So, I have challenged our team in the new year to join me in pushing through pain barriers and working together to achieve our ambitious corporate goals. I am more convinced than ever in our future successes.
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Jonathan Terrell is the Founder and President of KCIC. He has more than 30 years of international financial services experience with a multi-disciplinary background in accounting, finance and insurance. Prior to founding KCIC in 2002, he worked at Zurich Financial Services, JP Morgan, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.Learn More About Jonathan