When we hear the phrase “see something, say something” we often associate it with airports and travel, but for Ganesh Shankar, CEO and Co-Founder of RFPIO, Inc., it makes just as much sense in a day-to-day company setting. It also happens to be one of RFPIO’s company values and in his recent appearance on The BragWorthy Culture, Ganesh shared how those values grew from activities that the team cherished and enjoyed doing. Living those values is how the company has grown from just three co-founders in 2016 to the 450+ team members they have today.
RFPIO is the market leader in response management software. They help companies create and support RFPs, sales proposals and security questionnaires. The software’s bi-directional integrations and open API helps teams digitally transform their response management processes, harnessing the power of knowledge and content across their organizations.
How Customers Use the Product
When companies design products, they have to anticipate that sometimes customers will find innovative ways to use those products, ways that maybe no one ever thought of before. Ganesh points out that the company name comes from RFP — request for proposal — and many customers use the software to issue those every day. But what are the characteristics of RFPs? They are:
- Standardized and consistent
- Reviewed by subject matter experts
Customers soon realized that they could use the software to share information with a whole host of stakeholders, including analysts, partners, investors, vendors, etc. Not only did this prevent “rogue” documents from floating around that didn’t have the qualities listed above, but it increased the velocity of various processes. When stakeholders can access the information they need in an instant, everyone can perform at a higher level. Even better, RFPIO’s software can work in any email client, allowing customers to get what they need from their email instead of having to go to a different site.
In a digital world with more and more information located in different places, we can sometimes find ourselves scrambling to find a document or file, knowing that it exists, but not remembering where we put it. An added advantage of RFPIO’s software is that offers a repository for information.
Giving stakeholders the opportunity to get what they need faster isn’t just a feature, it’s a value. It flows from one of the company’s core values, “Get it done.” The others are:
- Be agile and nimble
- Give back time
- See something, say something
- Don’t mess with customers
Ganesh told Jordan that the “Get it done” value was originally printed on coffee mugs as GDDD, or “Get the Damn Deal Done.” That phrase didn’t make the final cut for the formal customer-facing values but it clearly communicated the urgency that the team had in those early days. It still remains important, but these days it lives on in an internal Slack hashtag: #getitdone.
See Something, Say Something
As mentioned above, Ganesh really sees the value of the “see something, say something” catchphrase within the organization. It’s thought of as “celebrating the critical eye” and welcoming fresh opinions. If something can be done better or if something is out of place, it’s on a team member to call it out. This, of course, ties back to the “get it done” and being “nimble” values. When a problem is not addressed it can slow everyone else down.
Give Back Time
RFPIO is a software designed to “give back time”, which itself is a core internal company value. However, the goal is not to save time for its own sake. Ganesh believes that time saved can be reinvested in the things that really matter; family, personal and professional growth, hobbies, self-care, etc. This mentality also trickles down to processes and functions that aren’t automated such as meetings. Ganesh believes that every two minutes saved in a meeting can be given back to his team members and that accumulated can then be put back into their personal and professional growth to help them to function at a higher level.
Don’t Mess with Customers
But what does “don’t mess with customers” mean? Simply put, Ganesh feels that customers have 1,000 problems of their own to deal with and he doesn’t want RFPIO to be number 1,001. Team members are reminded to make life easier — and faster — for customers at every turn.
These values weren’t imposed from a top-down C‑level meeting, they were sourced from the processes and functions team members most enjoyed, most cherished, most valued.
Transforming Competitors Into Team Members
Using these values to drive their business has been a winning formula for RFPIO. This has led to growth by acquisition. Some of those acquisitions were of direct competitors. People who were competing against RFPIO one day were made “members of the team” the next. Jordan asked Ganesh how that was navigated.
Ganesh states that none of those acquisitions have been easy, there’s always going to be natural friction and misalignments at the start of a new merger. Sometimes that means that new team members have a short stay and choose to leave, but others choose to embrace the change. One of the reasons they gave for staying was the transparency that RFPIO used in communicating during the takeover. That transparency helped those with doubts gain answers to questions so that they could “wait and see” as the new situation progressed.
Check Out the Full Episode
Learn more from our chat with Ganesh by listening to our full interview on Apple or Spotify.
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