We recently had the opportunity to sit down with June Gunter and Toula Ousouljoglou of Go-od Consulting, and Greg Dolan (CEO & Founder) and Ellen Grantham (CFO) of Keen, to talk about the power of their positive collaboration.
Established in 2010, Keen Decision Systems is a technology company that helps fortune one thousand companies make optimal decisions around their marketing spend to optimize against their specific revenue or company level objectives. Go-od Consulting was established in 2019, providing thoughtful counsel, with timely and relevant tools that enable their clients to set clear direction, take decisive action and pivot in response to changing market conditions. After joining Keen, Ellen connected with June and Toula through the CED network. A collaboration soon began that has positively impacted both companies ever since.
Tell us a little about Go-od Consulting and what you enjoy about collaborating with companies, like Keen.
[June] We love working with entrepreneurs who are trying to grow businesses and have a positive impact. We help these leaders create solid foundations for growth. That means building a thriving culture from the ground up, not trying to repair a toxic culture as you scale. Toxic cultures generally develop because of people not having the skills to address difficult issues and will ultimately get in the way of growth. Keen is truly committed to living their values and growing their people, not just their product. We have learned so much from being a part of their journey.
[Toula] Given all the uncertainty in our world, companies need to be able to pivot on a dime. We can help them have the conversation to recognize when it’s time to pivot and what their options are for moving forward.
With Keen specifically, we’re now focusing on what 2021 can become for them, and new ways that we can support their rapid growth. Having healthy conversations will be essential to their sustained success, no matter what the road ahead looks like. We will begin engaging with everyone in the organization so that our support and guidance becomes an integral part of Keen’s company culture, ensuring everyone is moving in the same direction. I’m a firm believer in continuous improvement. This approach reinforces the company’s constant evolution and we have the privilege of being part of that process, which is very exciting.
How has working with Go-od Consulting helped shape Keen’s company’s culture?
[Greg] I think above everything else June and Toula have helped us communicate more effectively in a way that is consistent with our company values. One of the key values is empathy, and it’s really important for us to understand what our coworkers are going through, the challenges they’re facing, the challenges our clients might be facing, as well as obstacles the external world presents (as this year has so clearly illustrated).
I think that awareness and learning the tools necessary to take a step back and understand the point of view and the perspective of another person is incredibly important to delivering against empathy as a value. Starting first with our executive team, we see a totally different dynamic emerging in how we relate and operate as a team, and that’s starting to transcend all levels of the organization. June and Toula have been a pleasure to work with on a regular basis. I think from day one they’ve felt like part of our team, which earns them trust from us and makes it that much easier to execute.
[Ellen] Go-od Consulting has allowed us to scale faster in a way that most companies overlook because they don’t consider the drag of unsolved conflict, lack of alignment and poor communication skills. It’s tempting to gloss over those human factors and not spend much time talking about them because they say, “OK, if we want to move fast, talking about these things is going to slow us down.” But the truth is making time to have those conversations allows us to communicate more effectively, decrease miscommunication on the back end and continue to move quickly. Where other companies may have issues they are oscillating on, we address an issue once and move on, and get back to executing. A lot of companies can grow fast, but it’s really hard to grow in an effective and healthy way. Go-od Consulting is helping us to do that.
What’s some pieces of advice you would give to companies right now?
[Greg] If you really want to grow and be effective, efficient and scale faster this type of open and empathetic communication environment needs to be a foundational piece for everything you do across the organization.
To Ellen’s point, if you’re having the same conversation three, four or five times, there’s a cost associated with that opportunity. The alignment we have across our company is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my career. Our teams are aligned, we ensure that when there is a problem, it’s clearly communicated to everyone exactly what we’re solving for, and often that problem is one that is identified across the whole company.
All those pieces have helped us grow and operate more effectively… I will use the analogy that we use with our clients. They may say, “yeah, but our marketing is doing great. It’s really driving our business.” And I would say, “well, you may be doing great, but I’m sure you’re still wasting 50 percent of your marketing spending.” And that’s where there’s always opportunity for improvement. You have to know and understand the issue in order to address it and improve.
[Ellen] The advice I would give is don’t go at it alone. Don’t think even if you’re doing well, that you have it all locked down enough that you wouldn’t need a resource like Go-od Consulting to come in, because there’s always room for improvement. Even if it’s not completely dysfunctional, there’s always lots of room for improvement. That’s how I would describe what has happened at Keen. We were not dysfunctional to start with and were a high performing team from the get-go. Go-od Consulting has given us the support and ideas to help our organization move faster. So maybe we would have gotten there on our own, but we certainly would not have gotten there in the time that we did without people like June and Toula.
[June] People underestimate the relevance of healthy conversation and the ability to talk about difficult issues. These are skills that if you don’t have, can kill your business. Misalignment, false starts and stops, and wasted resources halt growth. [Toula] Our work is about laying that foundation for growth with clarity of purpose, healthy conversations about performance and preparing your people for growth.