For Camille Nicita and her strategy team, transformation is a process that is integral to Gongos. It is the result of committing to become the next best version of itself and taking steps toward that goal every day. Gongos is a HIPP place to work, and HIPP is an important element that makes transformation possible. HIPP stands for humanistic, intelligence, passion and pride and it is the core of the Gongos culture. As Camille explains, humanistic is the encouragement and support of others; a communal pride in unleashing excellence and innovation. Combined with high impact strategic planning, it is the essence of the transformation story at Gongos. Let’s dig a little deeper.
It’s all about the right people doing the right things. According to Peter Drucker, “whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” At Gongos, that decision was to focus on people. This is not to say clients are less important. In fact, the reverse is true. But without the right people, put in the right place in a culture that truly values and supports them, clients will never experience what every client wants from its partners – insight, excellence, commitment and the ability to continually add value to the relationship. Over the past 20+ years, Gongos has honed its ability to identify individuals who will thrive in its culture. Once the right people are in place, Gongos works very hard to keep them.
Effective strategic planning provides the road map. The strategic planning process dates back to the early days of Gongos. The process begins with a 10 year envisioned future and then establishes three-year goals that are broken into annual goals and specific quarterly tasks necessary to meet those goals. While this isn’t rocket science, most companies fall down on the execution of the strategy – Gongos does not. Discipline is essential. Answering the question “What should the next best version of us look like?” is essential. Staying true to their purpose, culture, foundation and core values during the process is a mandate. According to Camille, transformation isn’t revolutionary, it’s evolutionary.
Know who you are and what you stand for. Stick to it. Decisions about how to grow are always filtered through Gongos’ four core competencies:
- Identifying and synthesizing “aha” moments for clients
- Communicating insights effectively and persuasively
- Identifying, developing and retaining top talent
- Smart innovation
Any new business decision designed to help the company grow must further support these competencies. One example is the launch of O2 Integrated. As Gongos saw the market research industry changing, they took a step back and asked the question “Is there a way we can combine our core competencies in different ways to create new and better value for our clients?” O2 Integrated is more consultative and heavily decision sciences driven with a focus on fusing disparate data sources including primary research, third party and enterprise information to help solve higher order business challenges for clients. The development of the capability enables Gongos to play more heavily in what it is defining as the decision intelligence arena – an important strategic focus for Gongos and one that is helping client organizations to develop the capacity to gain and apply wisdom that inspires great consumer-minded decision making.. O2 is a natural fit as it leverages all four core competencies – it helps to develop more “aha moments,” provides insight necessary to communicate the “aha” moments and helps to retain top talent as this is an area of intense interest. Clients see it as helping them make more intelligent business decisions and reinforces their view that Gongos is an innovator and a firm they can partner with long-term.
Be fully transparent in communication. It is the bedrock of trust. According to Camille, you can never communicate enough, although this was a hard-learned lesson. When the strategy team realized it had an issue relating to the understanding of why O2 Integrated was so important, Camille and her team took three months to execute an internal communication plan including a great deal of face time – from one-on-one meetings to town halls. The focus of the message was reinforcing the overall Gongos enterprise vision, purpose and core values and how O2 fit in. Leadership linked forces shaping change in the market research arena with their decision so everyone fully understood. The time was well spent with staff members who were once apprehensive now asking what they could do to help Gongos move forward and make O2 a real success.
Does it work? The proof is in the numbers. The company experienced 12% organic revenue growth in 2013 and has charted 70% five-year revenue growth, matched with 70% full time employment expansion. Do employees thrive in the environment? They must – employee retention was at 94% in 2013. It’s not the result of revolution, it is the result of an organization committed to evolution.
Gongos continues to experience success which emanates from the core values, culture and purpose that were the foundation of the company from its inception. While John Gongos, the founder, is no longer with us, I’m sure he is smiling at the success of the company and very proud of the entire team that made it happen.