Disruptive Innovators: How Serial Disruptor Teams Accomplish Repeated Success
“The strength of the team is each individual member; the strength of each member is the team.” Phil Jackson.
The concept of dream teams applies to more than professional sports — in entrepreneurship, there are multiple cases of partnerships and teams that seem to migrate together again and again to produce repeated success.
We’ve probably all seen this phenomenon, but serial disruption, done well, can provide some beneficial advantages to investors, to marketplaces, and to employees who gain the chance to work with a proven team.
One of these winning teams is lead by Joe Wang, serial CEO, and Dave R Taylor, a key executive in multiple successful ventures that have dynamically converged across multiple organizations and two decades of tech. These winning combinations have built LANDesk, WatchGuard Technologies, and now Impartner PRM.
Here are a few insider tricks that serial disruptors use to consistently outpace the competition.
1. They invest their own capital.
The owners of Impartner invest heavily in their own business ventures. This is advantageous in two ways: first, they capitalize on their own success; and second, their investors know they are dead set on winning.
“When outside investors see that the company founders have already invested significant time into the business, that’s well-received. But sweat-equity alone is not enough to persuade investors to fund the deal,” wrote Entrepreneur contributor David Newton. He added that in addition to plenty of hours invested working in the business, the owners must also be equity investors with money at risk. Otherwise, capital providers view the level of commitment as being less than desirable.
2. They keep winning, so they can cherry pick talent.
Everyone wants to be on a winning team. Wang’s serial success has given him the ability to recognize and then cherry pick great talent from day one. In addition, because of this track record, talent wants to move with him from company to company. “You can see so much in an interview,” Joe said. “When you already know the strengths and weaknesses and how you work together, you can cherry pick and mix and match and move more quickly.” Currently, 29 percent of Impartner’s all-star team has worked together at one of Joe’s previous companies.
The ability to assemble awesome talent has its in-house advantages, and it also bodes well in building confidence for business ventures. Providing a sound business model is one thing, but providing a solid team with a proven track record minimizes risk in the minds of investors.
3. They set high expectations.
The Impartner team works hard to meet high expectations and lofty goals. But employees don’t mind — because they’re winning.
This “winning team” mindset, made popular in part by Netflix CEO Reed Hasting’s famous presentation on his company’s culture, is useful to motivate employees’ competitive nature. It drives them to compete, promotes team spirit and collaboration, and stimulates energy and productivity. It also allows companies to “combine a realistic view of the often-temporary nature of the employment relationship with a focus on shared goals and long-term personal relationships,” states Harvard Business Review contributors Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh.
Joe Wang said it best: “We wake up markets. We get inside competitors’ heads, and we cause a ruckus in the market and wake up segments. We did that at LANDesk, WatchGuard, and now here.” And, as a team, they meet those high expectations with confidence and optimism.
4. Their growth exceeds industry averages.
Confident investors, talented employees, and a “winning team” mindset create the perfect climate for growth — so it’s no surprise that Joe’s companies always grow at rates that exceed industry averages.
The aggressive growth rate is a key figure in their business strategy even during slower times, because it gives employees and investors a more accurate representation of the industry as a whole. “We set the bar really high,” said Joe. “In a past company, seventy to eighty percent of the time, we didn’t achieve quota. However, what we were always able to articulate was that we were growing faster than the industry rate.” This helps employees remain motivated even when they are disappointed with their performance.
Joe also advises that CEOs should keep the number handy for investors. “There have been times where I’m upset because I’ve missed my quarterly mark, but I’m growing at more than percent and the industry is 7 percent,” he stated. “In that case, I need to get that message across to the investors and company, so it doesn’t affect morale. It’s also a great way to pitch for top talent when recruiting.”
5. They are simple, clear, and repetitive.
Joe believes firmly in simplicity, clarity, and repetition. This applies to organizations large and small. In fact, the larger the team, the more simple the message needs to be. “As the company grows larger,” he said, “it becomes even more necessary to make sure the message is simple.” He focuses on one message per quarter and drives it home at every available moment.
Scott Belsky, founder of Behance, stated in a recent Entrepreneur article: “Effective leaders (and brands) repeat themselves to the point where they can barely stand to hear themselves anymore. When it comes to setting strategy, they make a few simple points multiple times. And they compromise on ‘new messaging’ to reiterate what is most important.”
This strategy has served Joe and his numerous companies well.
It’s no secret how Impartner achieves success, but it does take a new game plan to emulate their business model. By investing in your own company, surrounding yourself with a competitive team, setting ambitious goals that exceed the industry average, and keeping things simple, clear and competitive, your own team will achieve winning results.