100 Days was founded to meet a gap in the market. International executive search findings have shown time and again that 40 per cent of executives failed to transition successfully into new management positions, at great cost to all concerned. Yet, beyond standard ‘on-boarding’ and a bit of high-level coaching, the support for new or promoted managers is piecemeal at best.
“Try as they might, organisations have failed to overcome the dip in performance as these individuals adapt to their new roles,” explains co-founder Richard Taylor. “We believe that the only way to tackle the issue effectively, consistently and at scale is digitally.”
Although one scenario will differ from another, the challenges faced by new managers are universal and predictable, he notes. “Whether they’re new to a director-level role at Barclays Bank; junior manager of a Swedish home-help service; or running a team of six plumbers in Chile, the need is the same: to demonstrate their worth quickly so that everyone can relax and move forward.”
100 Days’ founders had a clear vision for the support needed across the five phases of a successful management transition – Prepare, Position, Unite, Results, Expand – but needed the expertise of a bespoke software development company to bring this to life in a modern toolkit that users would embrace.
“We had a very clear idea of the content but not the technology, so we needed a partner that could provide us with the best possible advice,” Richard says.
One of 100 Days’ co-founders knew DCSL GuideSmiths’ MD, Nick Thompson, from a successful web development project in the 1990s and decided to look him up. Seeing that DCSL GuideSmiths was now a 100-strong development company doing impressive and complex work across a diverse portfolio of projects, the company was keen to know more. DCSL GuideSmiths’ development philosophy (short scrum-based coding sprints) was impressive, so the team visited its UK offices to discuss the opportunity.
“We could see there was a great culture – highly collaborative, where no task is allowed to get stuck – and knew that we had found our partner,” Richard says. “The UK is a more competitive market than Norway, which means DCSL GuideSmiths’ success record is based on its ability to deliver. This, their size, and the fact that they do a lot of work for SMEs, suggested they were an ideal fit too. We felt secure in our choice.”
100 Days specified that the initial toolkit, aimed at managers in transition, should be highly accessible and responsive in any format on any device and have a modern, intuitive look and feel.
Because the toolkit has a global target market, the ability to support multiple languages was critical too – with English, Norwegian and Swedish to be ready by the launch date of September 1, 2019.
“The solutions architect clearly understood exactly what we needed,” Richard notes.
The completed application, known as ELLA, has been built using the latest Microsoft technologies, including ASP.NET MVC, C# and SQL, and is hosted on Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud platform.
The toolkit includes videos, text, checklists, worksheets and questionnaires to prompt new managers to fulfil their potential quickly, and deliver quick wins along the way, so that within 100 days they are delivering positive results for the business. A menu system means managers can mix and match preparations and tasks, or systematically work through all the tools, depending on their needs.
The cloud-hosted digital toolkit is a powerful proposition. “The fact that ELLA is SaaS-based means we’re offering a powerful leadership development support package for the price of a mobile phone per manager,” Richard says. “That’s incredibly cost-efficient, especially when you consider the financial implications of leadership failure – not just in salaries and recruitment/development, but in the faulty decisions made and the impact on other employees if someone hasn’t done a good job.”
Having DCSL GuideSmiths alongside us to bring our ideas to life is very empowering. We find them to be extremely innovative, structured and diligent in everything they do – in short, highly professional.
ELLA’s potential appeal is enormous, he says. “We’re applying the YouTube-like accessibility of modern instruction aids to a very significant leadership challenge. Over a four-year period, our digital support package could touch anyone in an organisation too – as that’s typically the frequency with which people change roles.”
DCSL GuideSmiths’ contribution in taking the ELLA toolkit from vision to reality has been critical, Richard adds, confirming that the partnership will continue long into the future. As well as working on the next language versions and working on other updates over time, DCSL GuideSmiths will develop new toolkits, starting with one designed to boost the impact of knowledge workers. “We hope to get this underway in 2020,” he says.
“We look forward to this exciting next phase, once we have introduced ELLA to the market formally,” he concludes. “Having DCSL GuideSmiths alongside us to bring our ideas to life is very empowering. We find them to be extremely innovative, structured and diligent in everything they do – in short, highly professional.”