The Focal Point Blog // Business Strategy // Tom O'Neill // November 22, 2021

How Strategic Planning Helps you Scale your Magic & Clone your Heroes

Before Parallax, I helped grow Nerdery from a tiny little dev shop to an international consulting firm with nearly 500 people and $85M in annual sales.

When I look back at the early days, I remember the magical feeling of being a part of a team that shared the vision of building something exceptional and working tirelessly to survive. It was awesome, we grew fast and evolved organically because every project was an experience to learn from, every pitch an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, and every new hire a chance to level up our craft. We didn’t have fancy offices or great branding, but we had brilliant and adaptable people who believed in each other and our mission.

My experience at Nerdery mirrors many of our customers’ experiences. When an agency is small and has just a handful of customers, it is easy to stay focused on what’s most important. As the company wins new business, develops new capabilities, and expands its team, priorities can change daily. The team naturally builds acumen and habits for rapidly responding to the changing needs of the business. Employees learn to prioritize, focus, and adapt daily. They become experts in building amazing things in a world of chaos.

Eventually, leaders in the company find themselves working harder and harder with diminishing returns. Feeling reliant on the heroic effort of the great people on their team, they joke about “cloning” their best people to support growth. Unfortunately, building a literal cloning machine can sometimes feel more straightforward than finding people who fit the impossible standard for experience and capability of these heroes.

Before we go forward, it’s worth noting I’m a firm believer that talent is the most critical part of any business. I’ve built my career on my ability to surround myself with people more intelligent, creative, and strategic than I am. The answer for effectively scaling a digital services firm will never be to lower standards for talent.

How to scale your magic and clone new heroes

So, what’s your agency to do when building a cloning machine is out of the question? As your organization scales, it needs to be thoughtful about what created the “magic” during its early growth and how the “heroes” you depend on became great.

In the early days, it’s easy to stay aligned and focused on what’s most important. As your team grows, leaders need to be more intentional about helping everyone understand the strategy and goals and what to do to achieve them. Scaling the “magic” is as simple as engaging your team in the vision and goals. Cloning the “heroes” is as simple as hiring great people and making sure they know what they need to do to succeed, and then measuring their success and holding them accountable.

For many growing digital services companies, adopting a simple method and habits for strategic planning can be the most critical catalyst for growth they can invest in. For that reason, we’re sharing our Strategic Planning Guide for Digital Services Companies in the hopes that it can help you continue to invest in your growth.

What’s inside: Strategic Planning Guide

Parallax’s guide walks you through five key strategic planning steps and provides you with a set of tools designed to help you create a vision, goals, and objectives to improve your business. It encourages you to leverage your agency’s people, processes, tools, and data to inform your strategy and objectives for moving forward. It’s meant to be an impetus for change without being disruptive to what’s working.

The guide won’t help you create a more formal process using the “triage” habits your agency or consultancy has developed over the years. These ad hoc processes designed to manage the reactive nature of businesses can be antibodies to change. Rather, Parallax’s Strategic Planning Guide for Digital Services Companies will help you look forward, bet on your strategy, and set goals and objectives for improvement.

Good planning provides the time and space for key team members to look at the business from a lens of growth and with a shared perspective. A great strategic planning process helps us consider an outside view — including benchmarks and best practices — rather than assuming we need to invent everything.

Download our Strategic Planning Guide to access a project plan, business assessment survey, belief-purpose strategic framework, and much more. Together, these methods and tools will help you and your people perceive the possibilities for growth in your business, embrace the change needed, and establish a confident path toward measurable, positive impact.

Have any questions along the way? Shoot us a note. We’re happy to provide guidance.

Parallax Strategic Planning Deck

Ready to put reactivity behind you?

Download Parallax’s Strategic Planning Guide.