CV #14 Venturity: Culture-Driven Results
COMPANY AT A GLANCE
Founded In: Chris McKee founded Venturity Financial Partners in 2001 after holding accounting leadership roles with several different organizations in the Dallas – Ft. Worth business community. The firm grew out of a perceived need among small and growing companies for an alternative to a traditional in-house Controller and related departments.
Employees: 50 | Revenue: $5 million
Mission: At Venturity, we are passionate about providing an exceptional accounting experience for those who value the benefit of great accounting and the opportunity to learn and grow.
Passions (they call values, passions): Great Accounting, Exceptional Service, Lifelong Learning, Engaging Environment, Unmatched Integrity
Community: Venturity team members have the opportunity to donate money out of their paycheck (small fee $1- $2) each pay period. Quarterly teams decide where to donate the collective pool of money. Twice a year, Venturity also does an afternoon of service together. Throughout the year, they track all of their community service hours because Venturity is a strong believer that “what gets measured, gets done!”
LET THE TOUR BEGIN
It was a busy day when I arrived at Venturity in Addison, TX. Founder and Managing Partner, Chris McKee, was out giving a presentation on the impact that the Great Game of Business has had on their organization both culturally and financially, so I met with Partner, Deanna Walker, and Business Development Director, Abby Fuqua to learn about their company culture. Here’s what I learned:
1. Turn Down the Wrong Clients
Venturity’s business model is built around long-term relationships with clients, which is why it’s important that they share Venturity’s 5 passions (core values), primarily “valuing great information and exceptional service.” The business development team works hard to understand what the potential client values before doing business with them because they’ve seen what happens to team morale when a client is not a culture fit. Director of Business Development, Abby Fuqua, said “It’s important that Clients find real value in what Venturity brings to the table, because it’s not just about transactions, it’s about relationships. Our ideal clients are great people too!” And when it seems like a client is much more transactional than relational, they refer them to do business with someone else.
2. 3 Tips on How to Successfully Implement the Great Game of Business
A year ago, Venturity implemented the Great Game of Business (GGOB), an open-book management technique developed by Jack Stack, which helps employees to think and act like owners. The results have been tremendous: they’ve increased their margins by 7%, doubled their profitability, and crossed the $5 million dollar mark in revenue (a huge goal of theirs!). Here are Venturity's words of wisdom in implementing the GGOB in your organization:
Hire a Coach
GGOB coaches can be expensive, but Deanna and the rest of the Venturity team believe that it is worth every penny. According to Deanna, coaches help you to stay on track, be consistent, and work through challenges. Venturity worked with their coach weekly for 3 months prior to officially rolling out GGOB. The coach helped them to design their scoreboard (which metrics mattered most) and advised them on how to implement GGOB into the organization. They have kept their coach on post roll-out to serve in advisory capacity to the organization.
Be very intentional about who is on your design team!
To implement GGOB, you need to assemble a design team who will be responsible for creating the scoreboard (which metrics matter most), and how it can be best implemented in the organization. Venturity made a conscious decision not to put any of the leadership team (with the exception of their CFO who served as a facilitator) on the design team because they wanted it to be driven by team members. In total, Venturity had 7 people on their GGOB design team from various levels of the organization, including one intern. How did they decide who was on the team? They looked for influencers – team members who other team members looked up to, listened to and would be inspired by.
Every person should own a line item.
To increase organizational buy-in and team member engagement, Venturity empowered each team member to own a line item. Today, every member of their 50+ team owns a line item and is responsible for reporting their number along with providing an explanation for any variations from the budget.
3. Developing Employees Through a Career Stewardship Program
Venturity is committed to the learning and development of its team-members. They recently launched a three-part career stewardship program that focuses 1) on the individual (knowing yourself) 2) Venturity (knowing Venturity) 3) Combining the two to set goals and take action!
Venturity sees the career stewardship program as a 50/50 partnership with the team member. They meet twice a year to discuss where they are on their journey in the career stewardship program and offer the option to have an accountability partner as well.
Here’s a deeper dive of what it looks like:
Step 1: Know Yourself
1. Define a Personal Vision
The team member starts by understanding and defining their own personal vision. The team member is encouraged to write a personal vision using Zingerman’s method. i.e a descriptive narrative in the future, as if it already happened.
2. Understanding and deciding your core values – the principles that guide you.
The next part of the career stewardship program is understanding your core values. Venturity uses the Barrett Values Centre Values Survey to help individuals understand their values.
3. Describe Yourself: Your Culture Index Profile
Now that the team member has a strong understanding of their vision and core values, Venturity encourages them to take the Culture Index, an assessment which helps one to understand their motivating needs and rewards, communication style, management style, organizational style, and environmental needs.
4. Exercise 4: What are you good at? What do you want to improve?
In this exercise, team members are encouraged to think back on positive experiences they’ve had in their life and identify instances where they felt successful, proud, and/or accomplished. By describing these stories in detail, team members should be able to identify the skills they used, as well as the outcomes and results of their efforts. In the description, they are encouraged to include their goals, an obstacle, what they did step by step to overcome the obstacle, and the results (accomplished, outcome, impact).
From there, Venturity asks team members to think about the skills they would like to learn or develop further.
Step 5: Bringing it all together to help one to identify their ideal career path or sense of person.
This exercise is an intersection of what you like doing (interests), what you’re good at (skills/abilities), your personal qualities (personality), and what’s important to you (values).
They include a list of questions from Ari Weinzweig’s, Co-Founder of ZIngerman’s for team members to reflect on:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?What inspires you?
- What shuts you down?
- How do you like to learn?
- What makes you burn with anger?
- What’s the stuff that lights up your intellectual lights?
- What’s the stuff that sinks your spirit?
Step 2: Know Venturity
Now that team members have a strong understanding of themselves as individuals, Venturity wants them to understand how they can thrive in the organization. This starts with developing a deep understanding of Venturity’s Passions and connecting them to performance expectations.
1. Becoming familiar with Venturity’s “Passions Wheel.”
The passions wheel is essentially Venturity’s five core values: Great Accounting, Exceptional Service, Lifelong Learning, Engaging Environment, Unmatched Integrity. These passions are the lifeblood of Venturity and how they operate.
The passions wheel gives examples of behaviors of each passion, so that team members have a clear understanding of how to live them out.
For example: Engaging/Environment (Passion) leads to the behavior of participating in their career stewardship program by setting and achieving goals.
2. Understanding your job description and how it impacts the greater company.
Once you have a deep understanding of each passion and its behaviors, Venturity strives to help team members connect their job functions to the passions. They do this by providing job descriptions of every role in the company for team members to read.
3. Understanding the overall organizational chart.
From there, they take team members to a holistic view of the organization by showing the organizational chart.
4. Reading the company’s 2020 vision.
The final step in understanding Venturity is reading their 2020 vision, which they wrote 6 years ago. They ask team members to read the vision and reflect on it, so that each member of the organization understands where they are heading and how they can contribute to the company's success.
Step 3: Pulling it all Together - Set Goals and Take Actions
Now that team members have had the chance to reflect on their personal goals and have a deeper understanding of Venturity as a business, it’s time to share their goals and create actionable steps to achieve them. Team members are encouraged to write their goals down and share them with their manager. In addition to a 6 month check in with their manager, the goals are reviewed at the end of every year. Team members are also encouraged to pair with an accountability partner to meet more frequently throughout the year.
Venturity is all about culture-driven results. They practice GGOB because it increases transparency and ownership in their organization, as well as their bottom line. In addition to measuring financials, they also measure community engagement and employee engagement because these numbers are equally important to them. Finally, they strive to live their core values through their on-going learning and development programs and who they choose and choose not to do business with.