ThreeWill is Hiring – Is This the Next Step in Your Career?

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

Who we are looking for…

At ThreeWill, we are going through another growth spurt and want to take an opportunity to consciously expand the ThreeWill team.

We are looking for Certified Scrum Master, a SharePoint Consultant or a Microsoft Developer with experience in Office 365 / SharePoint Solutions.

How we determine a fit…

As most small businesses know (and all businesses in general), hiring the right people is one of the key decisions that can make or break the company. When we seek out new people, we take a three-step approach and evaluate new candidates in the following order:

  1. People – Is this candidate a people fit? Do they share our values? Can they continue the spirit of humble, confident service to our clients and their fellow associates at work?
  2. Process – Is the candidate methodical in their approach to their role? We value Free Will at ThreeWill and in order to function properly in an organization that values free will, you need to have high trust and effective communications. We look to see how that candidate could operate in a group that values Agile principals.
  3. Technology – Does the candidate have the technical aptitude to get the job done? This is the last thing we check because we have higher value on the People and Process fit of a candidate. We have been known to help people launch their career down a new technical path because we saw a fit in People and Process abilities and the individual was able to show aptitude to pick up the technologies we leverage.

Is ThreeWill a fit for you?

Here are three things to consider as it relates to a career at ThreeWill:

  1. If the work environment is just as important (or more important) as the type of work you do, please consider ThreeWill.
  2. If you get a kick out of solving complex problems and like collaborative solutions that help teams Work Together Better, please consider ThreeWill.
  3. If you want to truly feel part of a team and be in a company environment that integrates incentives that encourage their associates to work as a team, please consider ThreeWill.

If I have piqued your interest, please apply online now.

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Tommy RyanThreeWill is Hiring – Is This the Next Step in Your Career?

ThreeWill’s Atlanta Braves Company Event

Oliver Penegar is a Marketing intern at ThreeWill. Oliver graduated from a fine arts high school and is a rising senior in the School of Business at the College of Charleston. He has designed multiple e-commerce and informational websites. He is also certified in Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Inbound Marketing and he has produced songs, videos, and podcasts.

This past Saturday, ThreeWill had a company outing at an Atlanta Braves game at the new SunTrust Park and it was a blast. With nearly 100% of people showing up plus families, we had quite the crowd cheering on the hometown team. With seats in the shade, being close to food and the game, the first round of refreshments already paid for, even the non-baseball fans couldn’t help but have an enjoyable time. Add a win for the Braves (7-1) and the ThreeWill company event was a complete success.

This was my first company outing, first MLB game and first Tomahawk chop which made for quite the experience. Being the newest member, I got the chance to meet some of the ThreeWill family I hadn’t meet before and catch up with familiar faces. I’d always heard horror stories about company events (mostly from TV & movies) but when everyone gets along as well as ThreeWill does, it can be nothing but friendly and fun. I will admit, baseball has never been my favorite sport to watch but, never the less, I was excited just to be amongst the crowd, cheering with the rest of the fans. As soon as the first Braves home run and I’m standing alongside everyone with a beer in one hand and a tomahawk in the other, I realized I wasn’t next to the fans, I was a fan! Not only was the game great, but so was our vantage point. No matter how big a fan of America’s favorite pastime you are, no one wants to sit in the Georgia sun for 3 hours or the possible the rain that was forecasted for the game. Luckily ThreeWill was prepared for both with covered seats and still close enough to catch possible fly balls. The bonus was that they were also a few feet away from the vendors and restrooms which kept the time away from the game to the minimum. Since this was my first game it was important to me that I could see as much as possible and spend time getting to know other members of ThreeWill.

I had always heard an adage that claimed that the most important part of a business is the people.  I cannot think of a better way to get to know people in the ThreeWill team than by watching one of the most beloved team sports in America. The environment of the day was perfect for furthering the connections I have with the other members of ThreeWill, while forging some new connections as well. Overall, this company outing not only made me a baseball fan, but it also helped me get to know all the wonderful people that I get to work with and learn from. The game ended in a win in more ways than one!

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Oliver PenegarThreeWill’s Atlanta Braves Company Event

Always Growing

Will Holland is an Software Engineer at ThreeWill. Will has proven to be adept at understanding a client's needs and matching them with the appropriate solution. Recently he's developed a passion on working with .NET, MVC, and cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft Azure and Office 365.

I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to get better. As a kid (and as an adult, who am I kidding), I always preferred the cartoons where the main characters trained to get better, the video games where you leveled up and got stronger, or the books where the protagonist started out as the underdog. Back when I played paintball, I would watch SWAT or Military training videos and then practice breaching my friend’s utility shed. Showing up at the paintball field and putting those skills to use, and seeing how the practice paid off, was one of the most rewarding experiences I had playing.

Somewhere along the way, though, I became a little complacent. I graduated college, got a great job here at ThreeWill, and became content with where I was. I started thinking with that old “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. It took a little while, and having a few kids, but I finally realized what I was doing and decided it needed to stop. I had to get back to growing.

At first, I was just thinking about my professional growth. I started brushing up on newer technologies, creating little projects, and watching various Pluralsight courses. Still, I didn’t really feel like I was growing in the right areas. I was already fairly “up” in terms of code and technologies, and I didn’t want to just be better – I wanted to be more; both at work and in life. I had to take a hard look at two things: What are my personal weaknesses and what am I lacking experience doing?

Figuring out what I was lacking experience in was pretty easy – I just had to ask. From there, I started participating in sales calls, creating backlogs for new projects, and filling the “lead” or “architect” roles on new teams. One of the shortcomings I knew I had was “thinking big picture”. At heart, I’m a code monkey, and it’s always been easy for me to get caught up in my code without really thinking about what else was happening in the project. Getting those opportunities was great, as it allowed me to see the business from angles I wasn’t familiar with and forced me to not only see the whole picture, but sometimes to draw them.

Trying to figure out what my personal weaknesses were wasn’t any more difficult, but coming up with a plan on improving them was much more challenging. For me, I felt like I was too much of an introvert. I had become the sort of guy that sees an acquaintance in the store and actively tries to avoid making eye contact with them.

One of my more recent hobbies is watching people on the website Twitch. If you’re not familiar with Twitch, it’s a website full of people “streaming” themselves playing video games. Each streamer has their own chat, which makes interaction possible with viewers. I had previously created an account and thought about streaming, but ultimately shied away from it. This time, however, I decided that Twitch was the perfect way for me to put myself out there, get some practice talking to people and being social, and spend some time playing video games.

I’ve been streaming for about a month now and, to be honest, I still feel that same anxiety whenever I’m about to click the “Go Live” button…but it’s diminishing each and every time. Most streams, I’m talking to myself, which still gives me some practice at just externalizing my thoughts. I do have a small handful of people who will stop by and chat with me for a while though, and it’s such an awesome experience. Regardless of how many people watch, I still walk away from each stream feeling like I’m one step closer to being the person I want to be, and that’s what growth is all about.

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William HollandAlways Growing

What Do We Look for in New Hires?

Tim is a Senior Consultant at ThreeWill. He has 15 years of consulting experience designing and developing browser-based solutions using Microsoft technologies. Experience over the last 8 years has focused on the design and implementation of SharePoint Intranets, Extranets and Public Sites.
Danny:Hello, and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan. I’m here with Tim Coalson. Tim, how’s it going?


Tim:It’s going good, Danny.


Danny:Good. Another quarter’s past. It’s amazing how quickly three months can go by, huh?


Tim:Time to talk again.


Danny:Time to talk again. You don’t want to write a blog post? No? You don’t want to sit around for a couple hours, just looking at a blank screen and saying, “What have I been doing lately?” What have you been doing lately? Same project that we’ve talked about a couple times, right?


Tim:I have been, I have been. So, today, I actually thought I would sort of switch gears from a technical topic and really more one, I guess, kind of HR related.


Danny:That’s great.


Tim:Recently, I was at a function and sat next to a guy. As you know me, I don’t meet a stranger, so I started talking to the young man-


Danny:Everyone knows Tim Coalson. I’ve learned that.


Tim:I realized this guy, he’s an IT guy, so I start talking to him about what he’s doing, and it just so happened he’s into the technologies that we’re using, so, as is my normal course, I start asking him does he like what he’s doing, and just … And tell him a little bit about our company. When I see people like this I’m excited to tell them what we’re doing, and if the opportunity arises that they are looking for a new opportunity to give us a call.


So, I told him about our company, and then followed up with him, and most recently we had lunch together with this young man along with one of our managers, just to get a sense for what’s this person about; what are their interests, because one thing we know is important for anyone that we want to potentially hire is one, that we’re always looking for what is that person’s passion? And, of course, then, looking for what do our customers need, and where those two intersect, and you got a great combination of the passion, and the need, and they come together. So, it turned out, from our discussion with this young guy, he’s a very motivated person. Seems like a person of integrity, so we were excited to get to know more about him, so we’re going to continue on through that interview process.


But that sort of got me thinking about what are really the types of characteristics of people that we want at ThreeWill? First of all, we want to make sure that they know who we are. We’re not trying to hire someone under some sort of deception, making them think we’re something we’re not, because we know long term, they’re going to come here and they’re not going to be happy if their expectation wasn’t set. So, we like to be very transparent in, okay, this is who we are, this is what our values are, and does that align with your interests?


So, for me, that’s always very important, that we make sure that people know who we are. We’re looking for long term relationships. We enjoy and value working together for a long time. One, there’s you enjoy it, but then two, there’s a benefit, because as you work together more, you learn each other’s strengths, your weaknesses you learn to mitigate those things that aren’t as strong, and accentuate the areas where people are the strongest. So, we definitely believe a long term relationship is best, not only for us as a company, but really, long term for our customers.


Danny:I think one of the places I often send people to on our website is there’s a culture page where it goes through what our shared values are, and a lot of it’s tough, because there’s overlapping values with what a lot of people would say that they have as internal values, but you sort of … You’ll find out if people live them day in and day out, and one of the things that I put on that page was a person who represented that value. It wasn’t necessarily the best person to represent that value, but some person who sort of reminded me of that value.


Of course, like everything, like all my writing that goes on when I’m … I suggested a quote that they put … They may or may have not modified what the quote is, but it’s a good place for you to go sort of see what is it … When we say that, what’s it like to be at ThreeWill, what do we sort of share as we’re making decisions together as a group. I think the way that you do it is you talk about your shared values.


Tim:Yeah, one of the … As I thought more about this, I realized that the actual technical skills really was fairly low on my list, because I think you can find a lot people out there with technical skills. It’s really a matter of, like you just said, from a culture perspective, will that person fit in, because there’s a lot of people with a lot of skills, but there’s not a lot of people who communicate well, who are humble, who are team players. A lot of times, people really are sort of out to their ego. They like to feed their ego on either the code the write, or something else, and that’s really not what we’re all about.


Even our compensation is structured in a way that only when the team has success does the individual get the bonuses, or the compensations. So, it’s really more about what we as a team can do together, not what me as an individual can do. Whether or not my peers do good or not, we’re incented to work together, and I think generally, the people we hire, that’s what they’re all about. They’re all about teamwork, so part of that involves a certain amount of humility, that when there’s areas of a project that maybe I’m not as strong in, and I think I need help, the willingness to ask one of my peers for their input, for their feedback. So, certainly being a team player is a big part of our culture, as well as humility.


Of course, with consulting in general, good communication skills. You got to be able to set expectations with your customers. We don’t want customers to be surprised by anything, which part of our process involves one or two weeks sprints, so we’re regularly communicating to our customers, usually on a daily basis, but even if not on a daily basis, at least a week or two at the minimum, to keep them up to speed on where we are on our projects. So, we want to make sure that customers aren’t surprised by anything, that we keep them up to date on a regular basis that they’re involved in the process of understanding, okay, here’s what the concerns are, here’s what the risks are, here’s what our options are. Let’s make a choice and move forward.


So, being able to articulate that to a customer and being able to keep expectations, that is certainly important to our customers, as well as internally, to be able to share where are you at on whatever pieces of the project you’re working on. So, good communication’s certainly a big part of it.


Danny:Excellent. What else were some of the other things?


Tim:We’re really about solving business problems. I mean, technology is not the end, technology’s a means to an end. So, for us, it’s making sure we have people that really, it’s not about trying to continue to pad their resume by learning new technologies just for the sake of learning new technologies, but to really be focused on solving our customers’ business problems, helping them be able to collaborate, work together, be more successful. So, just finding someone that really solving the problem is their goal, and technology is just a means to that end, not the end itself.


Danny:Excellent, excellent. I’m just interested, because you were talking about this earlier, which was you were … I guess you were … What’s the first couple things that you say about working at ThreeWill? Not to put you on the spot, but how do you describe the environment here?


Tim:Yeah, for me, I guess part of it is just in contrast to hearing other people talk about their jobs. For me, we have a open door policy, so I’m constantly talking. Being a relatively small company, I’m always talking to the leaders of our company, so I don’t have a lot of bureaucracy, this management structure that I have to go through to talk about things, or express any concerns. So, it’s a very transparent environment. To me, I enjoy that piece, just being part of what really is a team, where we do work together. It’s not about one person, about what they can accomplish, but it’s really about teamwork and about how together we can help our customers be successful.


Danny:One of the things along with that, and it’s just sort of a side note, we hear a lot during the monthly company meetings about sort of how the pipeline is, how we’re doing as a business. It’s interesting, because I think what Tommy and I … We want to share what we can, but we also don’t want you guys to worry about certain things. You have do this on projects as well, right? You want the client to be informed, but you don’t want them to not worry about … They don’t have to worry about certain things.


Tim:Right, there’s technical details at times that really, a customer can’t help with, so there’s really no need to … We involve them to the extent that they can make a difference. We don’t want to unnecessarily burden a customer with things that are really outside their scope of influence, so … Certainly, if it is within their scope, then we want to be transparent and let them know about whatever the risk is, and tell them what we think the options are, and of course, get their opinion as well. Then together, come up with what’s the best path forward.


Danny:I think with us it’s just the things that you can control, or at least have some control over, is … I know you’ve been on a project for a while, but I think this is sort of why we look at utilization, because it’s the one … You can’t really control that much what your bill rate is, but you can look at the project and look for ways that you can help out on the project, and trying to grow what you’re doing, or take on new things on the project. That’s sort of the one area where you have … At least could have the potential to make decisions, and to maybe build up a skill, or be able to apply yourself to be able to make a difference. So, yes. It’s interesting to see how that factors in, yeah.


Tim:One of the things I think about, particularly as I talk to young people, is I think with our company, most of us are pretty seasoned veterans. I mean, I’ve been doing consulting now since … I’ve been doing IT since 1988. I’ve been doing consulting since around 2000, so that’s what, about 17 years? So, as you talk about developers versus consultants, there’s a big gap in there where I view a developer as someone that is really all about writing code, whereas a consultant is really about understanding the business, understanding the people, helping define what this application should look like, and helping define the requirements.


It’s a much broader, bigger communication piece, and then there’s, of course, the management to make sure the right things get done at the right time. That way, come the end of the project, then everything’s in order. So, as I talk to young people, I just think of all the experience that they can gather here at ThreeWill by working with more seasoned consultants to learn some of the … They may know the technology pieces. In fact, they might even know some newer technologies than we’ve actually used, but the piece that we can help them with is the consulting part. They can learn how to better manage a project.


I hear so much about failed projects, and we rarely, if ever, have those here at ThreeWill, because we manage things so tightly, I just don’t see that happening, but I hear statistically that how many IT projects fail, and it kind of blows my mind, just thinking about how much time and money’s been wasted on that. So, for us, the agile process is just so important to make sure that we do stay on track; that our customers are making decisions all along the way; that together, that we can be successful.


Danny:Anything else to add before we wrap up here?


Tim:I think that’s it.


Danny:Awesome. Well, I appreciate you taking some time out of your busy schedule, and you’ll continue to be on the same project for a while now, or …


Tim:Right now I think we’re to the end of the year. We’ve got signed contracts, or soon-to-be signed contracts. It’s great to work on the same project and to see it continue to mature over time.


Danny:That’s great, and I appreciate you staying on … You’re sort of the … You know what’s going on here at ThreeWill. I think Tommy and I rely on you, just sort of getting a sense of what’s going on inside of ThreeWill, and I appreciate your … Because you honestly care about other people, and it shows, and it really comes out. So, we appreciate just who you are as a person, and how much you care about other people. It is more than what we’re doing on projects, it’s just the human, being able to relate with other people and being able to really care for other people, and you’re really good at that, and we really appreciate you, Tim.


Tim:Thank you, Danny.


Danny:Absolutely. Thanks, everybody. Looks like we’re slowly getting more and more softer as we talk, and we go along. We’ll see if I can fix that, but oh well. Thank you, everybody, for taking the time to listen. Obviously, if you’re interested in ThreeWill, it’s a great place to be, it’s a nice … It’s a great culture here. It’s a consulting environment, so it’s pretty fast-paced, but it’s a place that Tommy and I really want to be a place that you love to work at, and so if you’re interested in learning more, come to Underneath the company section of our website, you’ll see something about our culture. Go into there and sort of look at what different people at ThreeWill say about working at ThreeWill. It’s a good place to start, and you can also see job openings, and start the whole application process on the website. So, definitely drop by, see if there’s any openings that look like something you’d be interested in doing. Thanks so much for taking the time to listen. Have a wonderful day. Thank you. Buh-bye.


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Tim CoalsonWhat Do We Look for in New Hires?

From the Docks of Charleston to a Desk in Alpharetta

Oliver Penegar is a Marketing intern at ThreeWill. Oliver graduated from a fine arts high school and is a rising senior in the School of Business at the College of Charleston. He has designed multiple e-commerce and informational websites. He is also certified in Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Inbound Marketing and he has produced songs, videos, and podcasts.

Having everything on autopilot, built into a routine and then suddenly getting the guts to grab control and pull up to new altitude is something most of you reading this will have already experienced. However, a sudden life flip, for better or worse, was new for me. This is how ThreeWill leveled me off and had me flying higher than ever.

Born, raised and still currently living in Charleston, enrolled in college with a part-time job working on the water, I was as comfortable as a person could be in their hometown. Having just moved out of my apartment, within a week I found myself packed back up and driving out of state in my Oldsmobile. Along the way, I was calling friends and telling them “Sorry, I can’t this summer, I have an opportunity that I won’t pass up” hoping I wasn’t making a mistake.

The first day, I’m excited and crazy nervous but within minutes of stepping into ThreeWill, the nerves faded away to just pure excitement. I listen to Mr. Danny describe the good, the bad, and the ugly about my new job all I can think it “That all sounded like good stuff!”. My new coworkers took no time to welcome me into the team and I’m proud to be a part of it. Even though I’m only in my first week I know for sure this opportunity was worth every cost.

This Internship incorporates my academic studies with my other interests in an already well set up system. I get to experience the inner workings of ThreeWill and see the individual gears that make it run efficiently. From using a great website, full of content such as blogs and podcast, to going to events to get our message and what we can do out there, I have the opportunity to play a hand in most of it. Already I’ve learned so much about understanding data and how we can apply it to increase our customers and partners’ satisfaction, along with so much more. I’ve only had the chance to glance into ThreeWill but every day is full of new and exciting projects. All the risk I took has been rewarded in full for this opportunity to intern at ThreeWill and I look forward to spending the rest of summer working hard here.

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Oliver PenegarFrom the Docks of Charleston to a Desk in Alpharetta

ThreeWill Is Not Like Any Other Place I’ve Worked

Kyla is the Executive Administrative Assistant to the President, Tommy Ryan. She not only support’s Tommy, but the entire ThreeWill Team as needed.

I walked into this ever so quiet place where the ambiance is more like a meditation Zen sort of atmosphere than an actual company.  The tempo is very chill laid back and inviting. Everyone is business casual or in jeans.  I walk around and say hello to everyone and they all seemed genuinely nice and happy to have me here.

The very first thing I notice that it is a predominantly male-driven environment which is great since that is what I particularly thrive in.  The other thing I notice is that there aren’t any names on offices nor titles anywhere nothing to establish any sort of organizational level structure which is pretty cool & indifferent. And get this, I actually share an office with the individual I support who is also the president of the company. This is the first in my entire 18 years as an Executive Assistant (EA) that I have ever done that.

For the most part, everyone is an engineer or developer meaning they tend to be more introverts than extroverts.   Here the developers seem to be a tad more outgoing than most I have interacted with in my years as an EA.  I came from a huge corporation that has thousands of people working for them on a national level.  The company is family owned just like ThreeWill but has been in business for over 100 years. The pace is very different when you are in a boutique firm such as ThreeWill.  It is a bit slower which is always a welcoming factor when you have been in a hustle/bustle type of environment for the majority of your career. Here I am learning software and processes that usually would not apply to an EA or be included in my day to day duties/skills but because it is a boutique company everyone wears many hats which add value where it is needed and when it is needed.

Things just happen differently here and as I get settled into my new position here at ThreeWill.  I am learning that titles don’t mean anything and politics do not exist here (Which is SOOO REFRESHING).

It is more about your drive and will to want to be an exceptional contributor to something bigger than yourself, where a team is needed to be successful and what you do truly matters.

Does this sound like a place where you’d like to work?  Check out current job openings and apply today!

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Kyla SmithThreeWill Is Not Like Any Other Place I’ve Worked

ThreeWill Shared Values – Passion

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast.


This is your host Danny Ryan, and I’m here with Tommy Ryan. How’s it going Tommy?




Danny:Chilly willy.


Tommy:That’s all I can say is chilly.


Danny:Yes it is, it’s a bit cold outside.


So we’re wrapping up today with the last shared value. And that shared value is passion. And we love what we do and working at ThreeWill. And I’ll read to you from our website what we have about passion.


We value having an environment where people choose to come to work because they’re passionate about what they do. We realize that our company exists because we provide a service or solution that has a positive economic difference to our client. That being said, we always challenge ourselves to stay in the balance between making money and having fun at work. A significant proportion of your time is at work, so it is important that you make the most of it. Having passion with what you do, and fun while you’re doing it. What do you think about that Tom?


Tommy:It’s an interesting value that I think in the early days we did not have. And I remember refactoring the values, trying to tease out and simplify them. And this last one of passion, it is a value that we have but we never called it out explicitly. We talk about the intersection of your skill, passion and business need when we look at what people do at ThreeWill. But we wanted to call this out because it is that balancing factor to what’s work about? It’s not all about getting the work done but having fun as you do it. And so it’s an important value, it’s a value that I think we seek out in the interview process. We want to have people that are passionate about what they’re doing, so we can continue to have a culture that’s more of a carrot versus stick type culture. So I think that value is important that we call it out to recognize that without that the rest of the values, I think, kind of collapse without having it in balance with passion.


Danny:Now the making money and having fun, isn’t that from Gore? Is that where that came from?


Tommy:Yeah that did come from Gore. It’s kind of the bottom line as a business, we’re here to make money and have fun. And any business endeavor, there’s that money aspect. And sometimes it gets honed in just on the money aspect, so they try to keep that in balance with making money and having fun.


I think people have fun when they’re doing something they’re passionate about. So if we’re focusing in around our passions, what are the types of solutions we like to provide. What types of roles we like to play, as it comes to being on a project team. What kind of problems we like to solve. And if we’re honing in on those things that we really love to do, and it pulls the passion that we need to have to keep on enduring past the challenging parts of our work and our projects.


Danny:Yeah and I think one of the things you and I always look at is what type of environment are we creating and I think we start this out with where we’re trying to create an environment where people come to work because they’re passionate about what they do. It gets them up in the morning, they’re excited about it, they want to come in and really focus and they’re excited about what they’re doing each day.


Tommy:Right. Yeah and I think sometimes you get caught up in the minutiae of what you’re doing and it can drag you down but you have to step back and say overall what am I doing here? Yeah I’m sitting inside of Outlook all day, in front of Word and Excel, and if I think about just the skill of being able to manage email and write proposals and contracts, that’s not really what I’m passionate about, it’s more of the creating the environment to be able to do the work that we do, and that starts with that sales process. So that helps me stay passionate about I do because if I were just doing contracts and managing email, and it wasn’t in an environment and in a company that’s doing things that I believe in, then gosh that would be very painful. To come into work every day and just open up Excel and PowerPoint and Word and Outlook.


In a sense, starting this whole thing out, there was a lot of passion around visual studio and understanding technologies, and that’s evolved over time. And so it isn’t visual studio, it is different tools, and I’m not passionate about those tools, I’m passionate about the outcomes of having conversations that lead to the opportunity to show what we can do well.


Danny:Yep. And I think one of the things that over the last couple of years with, in my evolving role and starting to do marketing things, it’s something I feel like I’m passionate about and want to learn more about. And I appreciate you created the environment here for me to branch out and try some new things. I think you’re always trying to tune into what gets people really motivated and trying to create the situation where they can go after something. I think this has a lot to do with as well, our first podcast was a roles versus responsibilities and the whole titles, I guess it was more like titles versus responsibilities. And something where people want to carve out something and go after something and creating that type of environment as opposed to I’m doing something because I have this title.


Tommy:Right, yeah and probably the thing that might be my favorite thing to do here at ThreeWill is the culture, and doing things that impact the culture and keep the culture healthy and alive and so the people aspect of understanding what people are passionate about and trying to get that matched up with the projects that we do and the roles that need to be played on projects. That interests me and there’s probably things I don’t need to do in my role to help those aspects of our business, but the lovely thing is we’re not forcing people into boxes where they have to stay within one container or one role and one set of responsibilities. We want people to surface up and contribute where we have need in the organization, and if they have skill and they do it with passion then we get out of the way, we let that happen.


And I think with you with the marketing side of things, you’ve got both the skill and the passion, there’s definitely the need there. So it makes it easy, it makes it where I’m not coming in and trying to give structure to you or give structure to Bruce, or give structure to anyone. Everybody is filling a role that they feel like they can do and they’re passionate about it, and that just makes an environment that it’s easier to say I want to get up in the morning because we’re individually making choices to want to contribute.


And I was having an interview yesterday, and it’s very weird that I’m looking for an executive assistant, it doesn’t seem like I should have an executive assistant. But that’s the title that people use out in the world and what I’m looking for is someone that’s passionate about organizing around email and counter appointments and scheduling things, and they get a kick out of it. And they happen to have a title in this world of executive assistant. I might come up with a new title for that but as we’re searching, that’s the role that we’re looking for. And you know it’s one of those things that… Actually I’m losing track of my thought there, but…


Danny:I guess along with that, how do you, because you were talking about this earlier, how do you find when we’re interviewing people, what’s sort of the way that we find out they’re passionate about, really passionate about, because the typical person coming in for a job, you say I’m passionate about doing this. How do you really find that out?


Tommy:You reminded me of what I was trying to lead it to, but since we kind of let them know what’s important for them to realize is it relates to our culture and what’s going to make them successful, and I said we’re an environment that it’s great that we encourage self motivated people, and we provide a lot of freedom, we don’t put people in boxes. But then there’s people that want to have those boxes, the people that want that structure, and that can be very stressful, very difficult to work in an environment like that. So I’ve indicated to people, if you want to have that structure, that’s not bad, I mean that’s just the way you want to have your work environment set up.


In here, we’re attracting people that are self motivated people. And to be in the business of consulting, I think that’s the right thing to do. I think we have to have an environment that we’re allowing people to use their creativity to solve the problem in the most effective way. And along the way there is structure, there’s the structure of choosing what technologies we’re going to use, what types of projects we go after, there’s plenty of natural structure there. But for the individual’s potential to contribute. You know if someone comes in as an executive assistant and they’re doing some junior sales type work, if they have the passion and the skill to do that and we find we don’t have as many people as we need to be doing that, we’re not going to stop you from helping at that level.


So you know, for some people that’s awesome. I can learn some new things, I’m not going to be stuck only being able to schedule appointments and follow up on email, but I can do some other things that will help me grow. So I think that’s a benefit but also for some people it can be a drawback, of I don’t want to come into work not knowing what I’m going to do next. And that’s a valid thing to be concerned about but as a person that’s got a lot of self initiative, they like having that open space to be able to create what do I want to do next?


Danny:Well I think there is diversity in the types of things people are passionate about, and it has to do with, some people might be… You know we always joke around with Linda, she would be really excited to be a collector of money at the toll booth, that would make her excited because of the structure that’s a part of that. Now that would drive me nuts. To do the same thing over and over again. But you have to recognize I think there’s diversity in what people are passionate about. That what gets them up in the morning is different for you than what it is for me. And I think trying to create this organization, you’re trying to find different people and their passions, and putting them in… Because there are some things that just need to be done and require a lot of structure to get them done. And finding the right people to go into those positions is part of our role and part of what we need to do to create a diverse team at ThreeWill.


Tommy:Right and I think that organization structure, you know, working on accounts payable, receivable, some of the HR things. And this executive assistant role, it requires a lot of structure. I think the thing that’s nice about a Linda, a Jan, a Barbra, they’re naturally wanting to create that structure. And you know for Linda, from day one, she’s just taken things and gone after them and created the structure she needs around her to be able to get her job done well.


So I think the thing that I was trying to emphasize the other day was you might go into a big corporate environment and there’s high structure for what your role is, and what you’re allowed to do. And at the end of the day we try to provide the ability, for a lot of people, to not be pigeon holed into one type of role and responsibility, but to be able to explore others. And as a company we do have structure, from an agile process, from templates for estimation. And I don’t think we get rid of structure as it relates to the processes and how we get business done. I mean that’s so important. I mean that’s kind of the theme aspect of what we do, is the day to day things, that we don’t want to reinvent the wheel with certain things because AutoTask is wherever we’re putting our time. You know we’re not trying to reinvent that all the time, we’re trying to create structure around that so people know what to do for some of those mechanical things.


I think what we try to do to create some freedom is around how you contribute within that whole mechanism of what we do as a business and allowing people to say okay today, yeah all the time people look at me as an infrastructure engineer, maybe I want to try development or people look at me as a sales person, maybe I want to try marketing. And you know, give that opportunity. And you know other companies do that, it’s quote lateral moves, within organizations. And we try to create that environment of it’s more important for you to work on what you’re passionate about than, quote, climbing the ladder. And you know being a flat organization, there’s not really much of a ladder. It’s more of what am I passionate about doing and then how can I hone that skill and get better and better at that? And we try to create that environment that you can do that.


But I think it has to come from self motivation. And probably our biggest fault is we don’t create a lot of structure to tell people what is the next step, and we got to keep that in balance. We can’t, you know, not look at ways to help people in the way they grow. I mean our sponsors I think is a way to do that, and we try to keep on top of sponsors to make sure they’re doing the reviews, and the reviews are very simple. The retrospect is asking those three questions of, what am I doing well, what can I improve and what should I stop doing, just so you can have that conversation of how can I grow? And the sponsor supports that.


Danny:Excellent. Excellent.


Yeah I think a lot of the structure for the different teams comes around the process that you use, you know the product backlog and the spreads and organizing around that. Inside this environment I think there’s a lot of self organizing teams, so Bruce works with the right teams to sort of put them together based on what the project is. And you know I see a lot of passion with you around the… You’ve always had a lot of passion around the process you used, and so the process drives out structure for us. Especially on projects. That’s always been there and something I’ve seen that you really enjoy doing. I think that there’s a lot of… I think bringing in somebody to help out with some of the administrative things around sales is just… We’re all encouraging you to do that because it just helps you scale and helps out, I think, overall. Some of these responsibilities will be handed off to somebody else but for the meantime you’ve got a lot on your shoulders and so having somebody else come and take the weight off of that, really is something I appreciate you looking into.


Tommy:Sure. Yeah it’ll be a journey.


Danny:That it will. What kind of socks have you got on? Anything special today?


Oh those are nice.


Tommy:Little stripes.


Danny:Yeah little stripes never hurt anybody.


Tommy:They change colors as they go up.


Danny:Excellent, good job. Anything else before we wrap up with passion?


Tommy:I think that is it.


Danny:So we’ve covered all of our shared values. And i know one of the fun things that we’re doing is we’re just wrapping up with some design sessions around doing a blackboard or chalkboard that has our values. So we’re looking forward to getting that up on our wall in our kitchen, so that should be fun to have.


Tommy:Yeah that’s going to be nice. A good way to wrap it up.


Danny:Yeah be a good way to wrap it up and a good daily reminder as you’re grabbing some coffee, a good reminder of what our values are. I think that’s important is to have it in your physical environment as well, just reminding everybody, as a group these are the things that we truly value and these are the ways that we make decisions as a group.




Well thank you everybody for listening to this series of discussions around our shared values. Love to have a comment, if you have one, at the bottom of the blog post. Just interested to hear on your take on that and just really appreciate you listening to this series.


Take care, have a great day. Bye bye.


Tommy:Bye bye.


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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Passion

ThreeWill Shared Values – Value

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny Ryan:Hello and welcome to ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan, I’m here with Tommy Ryan. Tommy how you doing?


Tommy Ryan :I’m doing well Danny, how about yourself?


Danny Ryan:Good, good. Doing just fine, doing just fine.


So, today we’re going to continue on. We’re talking about our culture and in particular our shared values and on the second to the last value which this one sounds a little weird but our value is value.


Tommy Ryan :Yeah.


Danny Ryan:I’ll go ahead and read what we have up on the website for this. We have Carolynn up there and this is the value itself. We strive to provide maximal value for our customers, that sounds wonderful. Then let me read the quote that we have with that. We think the greatest value we can bring to our clients is taking the time to truly understand their needs in order to be able to provide them with an outstanding solution on time and on budget. At ThreeWill we will strive to understand completely what the client needs before we ever strike the first line of code or make the first configuration change. It is not our job to write amazing code, using all the latest technologies just because we can and think it would be a good value. It is our job to know what … Excuse me … It is our job to know what will bring the client value by working closely within to gain a real understanding of the project requirements. Then using our agile process we can apply that knowledge to ensure the correct tools and technologies are employed in order to provide an outstanding solution that exceeds the clients expectations and brings them the greatest value. What do you think about that Tom?


Tommy Ryan :I think it can sound generic but I think when you put skin on it, when you look at individuals at ThreeWill, the way they look at this, they look at okay what am I billing per hour and did I actually do something that was valuable. I think we always have that tension of am I at the end of the day providing more value than the check that’s been signed to compensate us for the work that we got done for the customer, so you know that’s a tension that’s really real within our organization and it’s good to have that tension. It makes you think about, let’s make sure that we’re methodical in the way we go about determining what gets done, and the agile process helps with that, where we’re not spending so much time talking about things that don’t get done or don’t add value.


If you look at the process of sales to delivery, we take down the users stories, so we can understand at a high level what do you want to accomplish, what are the individual features that make up the initiative that you want us to get involved with and as a part of that we feedback, very quickly the leveled effort. So you can look at an item on that backlog and say wow, that’s going to cost $5,000 dollars or $10,000 dollars to implement that one feature. Maybe it’s not as valuable as I thought it was and maybe I didn’t realize the complexity of going down that path. So we want to enable our customers to see that, before they even spend a penny in the process and so that I think gives value to the customer very early before we even deliver any of our product that we do and our projects.


Danny Ryan:Yeah, I really like what Bruce and the team does with breaking out estimates and understanding from the get go, he breaks them out into different groups and understanding, how much am I going to be spending on maybe this feature set and early on from a clients stand point, they’re understanding sort of where am I spending my money and they probably have the best sense of anyone as far as whether it’s worth that and understanding what their goals are and will implementing this really help them meet those goals and so you know, we don’t want to see ourselves as an okay let’s go tell ThreeWill what to do, it’s more we’re engaging with you to talk through what yo are trying to accomplish and then sort of prioritizing what you’re doing as well because I think that’s where the value comes into play, as you’re doing the things of the highest priority first and how do you do that and I can see with the delivery teams, that they’re able to do that and organize on a sprint by sprint basis, which is just wonderful to see.


Tommy Ryan :Yeah and I really think the process of agile is the key component to the value proposition that we have to our customers and it even comes without a project taking place. It can come through the ability to make a good decision on should I go after a certain project and to “fail early.” We do fail early in the sales process where we provide a budget and that budget is beyond what they can afford to go after an initiative and it’s much better to figure that out up front, than to get half way into it and realize well I’m not going to be able to get to the finish line, now I’ve spent money but I can’t get to the finish line so I don’t have value, I have a deficit. I’ve spent money, I’ve spent time and I have nothing to show for it. We don’t want to put our customers in that position and that’s tough.


We’re in environments that we want to be a catalyst to move quickly, get engaged, start producing, working software and to keep that in balance with okay overall objectives of the organization, technology, standards and at the end of the day is this something that fits and works well within the organization. It’s not always black and white, so we have to help tease out the details with our customers, so they can make the most informed decision along the way and at the end of the day, we feel like an educated customer where we’re helping them in that process, is going to be the best customer to set us up to be successful.


Danny Ryan:I feel like a part of the reason why we ended up focusing so much on share point as a framework and just sort of what we’re taking into each of the different projects, is because of wanting to provide value and that is we don’t want to go around building these frameworks from the ground up … We’d rather come in with share point into a project because I think ultimately if we’re talking about value, sorry I can see some clients sharing the same concept of value and saying you know looking at our bill rates and saying hey I could get maybe two or three other folks at a lower rate, that would lower your bill rates so I think that these other companies are better value, but the way that I look at is our approach both with our process with scrum with being able to organize around what are we going after each sprint and making sure we are spending the right time on the appropriate things along with using share point as sort of the framework where we’re configuring first, coding second but can build these high value solutions out of this that we’re able to have one, two, three persons teams that if you were building this from the ground up would take a dozen folks to go and do.


Tommy Ryan :Right, yeah, yeah and I think focusing on a platform and being able to understand the nooks and crannies and the breadth and depth of that platform enables us to have a final complete solution that is going to give the customer further, than just taking a generic approach where you have to in a sense reinvent the wheel and we prescribe to, if there’s something out there that can get the job done and we extend that and bring it to the finish line faster and kind of better quality more capability then we’re all for that. We don’t think we need to start everything from scratch and we’re always trying to find those opportunities where there is that fit. We’re not forcing a square into a round hole but we see that this is a round hole and this is going to be the fastest way to get you there and let us show you want we’ve done with other customers and give you a vision of how you can get there and do things that maybe you really didn’t realize you could do with a platform.


Absolutely, anything else to add for value?


Danny Ryan:I think it comes down to making good choices. We’ve talked about this and the number of values in the brand promisees. At the end of the day, to provide value there has to be a good dialog with the customer to understand what’s important to them and continue to hoNE in on what is their situation, what’s special about what they’re trying to accomplish and tune ourselves to that need and not try to force a customer down a path just because we think it’s the right way. We really need to understand where our customer is coming from, so we can tune to giving them the most value. I always turn the artist software development into a science but there are aspects to what we do, which is people interactions that we have to kind of tune into what’s important to the customer and I think that’s what makes us a very valuable organization to our customers today and tomorrow. It’s because of us caring about understanding their need and expecting and adapting to that need in the fastest way possible.


Tommy Ryan :Nice socks dude.


Danny Ryan:I don’t think I’ve seen these yet?


Tommy Ryan :Yeah, yeah there maybe, I think we’re getting to he bottom of all the socks that I have.


Danny Ryan:If anyone would like to donate some socks to the Danny and Tommy Ryan Sock Fund.


Tommy Ryan :I don’t know if I want used ones.


Danny Ryan:Oh yeah, let’s make sure there new socks, yes we’re looking for new socks to talk about.


Well thank you Tommy for taking the time to do this and thank you everybody for listening and have a wonderful day. Take care, bye bye.


Tommy Ryan :Bye, bye.


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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Value

ThreeWill Shared Values – Growth

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny:Hello, this is Danny and Tommy Ryan, and we’re here talking about growth today. We’re talking about our values. How’s it going, Tommy?


Tommy:Going well, Danny.


Danny:Awesome. Last one we covered was honesty and now we’re into growth. I’ll get us kicked off here by just reading what we have up on the website, our culture part of the website, which is: “.. growth, we encourage each other to grow in a balanced way. Personal growth is an important part of our culture at ThreeWill. We recognize the technology field is in continuous flux.


Tommy:Yes, it is.


Danny:Time can erode the technical advantage, making it a priority to sharpen the saw, a little bit of Covey there … is a key to being able to provide the highest level of service to our clients and our company. ThreeWill encourages people to recognize and pursue their passions in ways that allow for personal and professional growth while also directly benefit our clients.


ThreeWill fosters an environment where people can enjoy what they do but also have an appropriate work-life balance, which allows time for our consultants to invest in their families and communities.”


Thoughts on that, Tommy?


Tommy:Some of the things that come to mind with the statement of growth and how we embrace the value of growth is … comes from another background that’s common in our values, which is my background at Gore, W.L Gore & Associates. They had a concept of no one has titles. People have roles and responsibilities. One of the reasons they did that … it could be kind of counter to growth. You could see, well, how do I quote “climb that ladder” and get the next title in the list? The concept was you really don’t want to be pigeonholed into a box and say, this is only what you can do. It’s to try to encourage that freewill aspect of choosing to succeed and not having artificial barriers there, to choose to succeed and to grow.


That’s something that comes to mind, and also I think our environment with the humble confidence that we’ve talked about before, is we created an environment that people can learn from each other and are fine with talking about the things that they don’t know so they can recognize that and be able to address the gaps that they have in their knowledge, to be affect in the roles that they play. Those are some things that come to mind when I think about growth and how growth is applied in our culture.


Danny:It’s tough, I mean, as being a part of a consulting company there’s always the challenge of trying to stay a step ahead and trying to be wise in the guidance that we give our clients. It seems like there’s always a constant balance to try to figure out. How do I try to stay a couple steps ahead, yet at the same time don’t get out of balance when trying to get a couple steps ahead?


You and I have been doing consulting for quite a while and it just seems that it’s always something you have to try to figure out, and have to be focused in on. It’s a challenge to everyone here that works at ThreeWill, which is growing and keeping balance.


Tommy:Yeah, I think that balance … one of the things that we consciously work on and it’s easier said than done, which is what is our technology focus? That kind of plays into the ability to grow and grow in a way that is going to be effective in helping our customers or clients that we work with. When we come in as consultants you’re always that person that has to be that half-step ahead, and give guidance down the path that’s going to be the best advice that’s known at that point in time. To keep that awareness of, what are the best practices, what are the best approaches, what is really working in the industry? The further we can narrow down what we do, puts us at that advantage to be able to spend less time to accomplish the goal of being that good consultant being aware of the things that you need to know. The work-life balance, there’s always one more thing that you feel like you need to know and so if we can narrow that done, that addresses some of the anxiety that comes with being a consultant.


Danny:Absolutely, yeah, I think that focus allows for us to say we’re not experts in everything, there’s certain things that we focus in on as an organization and you and I, I think through the years have really tried to do our best at staying focused at what we’re doing. It’s tempting to go after different things but I think that’s helped overall the team at ThreeWill to help maintain some balance in the work-life.


I remember early on in the company … it was probably even before ThreeWill where you and I had conversations about the work-life balance and wanting to say … I don’t want to get to the end of this thing and have a great career yet a messed up relationship with my wife and relationship with my kids. How do you balance that over time? I think there’s … trying to figure out this growth thing along with the work-life balance has been something that we had to focus in on for many years here.


Tommy:Yeah, I think some of that comes from what commitments do you make along the way, along that path, because I think you can grow and keep that work-life balanced based on what is your level of commitment. That’s what you always have to tune. As a company and then as individuals what is our commitment? What are we committing to, and are we over committed? How do we balance or level out the things that we do within the organization in way that people can feel like they have the opportunity to have that work-life balance?


I look at some of our consultants sometimes from time to time, or end up leaning on one or two consultants that have great capabilities to help our clients feel very comfortable and have that knack of knowing how to get to the bottom of things and solve the problem effectively. We have to keep a balance and consciously think about, for this particular person, what does that balance look like? Each person is unique and to kind of be fair, we have to treat everybody differently within the organization because they do have different personal styles, personal definitions of what is balance for them. We’re consciously tuning to that, and I think that brings the best out of people. Some people, they work fine within two to three projects, and some of them work best with one or two or just one. Looking at what is their breadth of responsibility and what is their impact based on coming up with the right balance for different individuals within ThreeWill.


Danny:One of the things that I like that you do each year with the planning is … I think a part of this is you have to plan for the balance as well, because you sort of look at what you did this past year and you look at the upcoming year, and a lot of what we look to do is … I know it’s not the sexiest thing in the world but we look to repeat, to show that we are able to repeat what we’ve done in the previous year. I think a lot of that has to looking at who’s on the team, what are we able to reach to. Not just saying we’re going to grow’s sake. It’s saying we want to have a good, mature … the overused word is “organic” growth, but you want to have something where we’re not over-extending ourselves and we’re able to prove that we can repeat. Repeat performance of what we’ve done in the past year, and then from there branch off and maybe go after a little bit more.


Tommy:Yeah, I think when I look at growth a lot of what I hone into is the growth of individuals at ThreeWill. When I look at that, it sometimes translates into financial growth in terms of what is the top-line revenue and bottom-line revenue. Those are I think fruits of the labor of focusing on individual’s growth. At the end of the day, some of that is finding that we can go after different types of challenges and that excites us, it feels like we’re using our gifts. It allows us to feel like we’re proud of what we do at the end of the day.


Within our environment, what I think is it’s not say, unique to every environment but I think it’s something that people appreciate, is when we’re faced with challenges and faced with decisions, the financial part of it is a piece but it’s usually not the leading piece. It’s looking at what’s the right thing to do to treat the client, the individual well. As a result of that, there’s good longterm stability and there’s a sense of “I’m valued for what I’m doing”, versus “I feel like I’m just a cog in the wheel making more money”. You have to keep in balance with that. I think the balance is we want to provide an environment that people feel like, “If I do my best, this is an opportunity I can continue to contribute and be here.” We have some fiduciary responsibilities to make sure that we have the right amount of top-line, bottom-line revenue to support the team, who we are today. Then we look at, are there new challenges out there that require a growth in terms of head count, in terms of revenue? That gives us opportunities to do things that we feel like we have that individual personal growth.


Sometimes that has to come through quote “growth of the company”, because some people mature to a level of they need challenges that might require them to be responsible for a group of people, something they’re passionate about to kind of carve off, I want to solve this problem. Sometimes you can’t do that at a small number, you have to wear too many hats. That’s something we’re consciously looking at and trying to figure out what is best.


We went into this year, we said based on the characteristics, we want to have something very similar to last year because we think that’s appropriate. That’s something that allows us to sharpen the saw and regroup around certain aspects of what we need to do to scale to the next level of growth. That’s a conscious effort to grow sometimes, is to make a decision to stay the same level so you can either sharpen a skill, bring on the people you need and get them ready, and then be positioned to go up to that next tier.


Danny:Great stuff, great stuff.


You going to see the Braves today, are you seeing their new stadium?


Tommy:Yeah, it’s visit number two.




Tommy:I hear we’re going to see a little bit more this time because they’re further down the path and there’s a few more things that we’re allowed to go see and walk through.






Danny:You have to take a picture or two so I can share that with folks.


Tommy:Okay, will do.


Danny:Good to see, that’d be great to see. Awesome stuff.


I’m checking … I think I’ve got your socks beat today. You did match them with your pants, so that’s pretty impressive there Tommy.


Tommy:Yeah, the only fanciness about these socks is that they have an indention or striping to it.




Tommy:I’m sorry. No color.


Danny:It’s okay. Mine are black at the bottom but these are the ones that are a little bit crazy up top. That’s me, I’m a little crazy up in the top.


Tommy:Very true, very true.


Danny:Very true. Well thank you for taking the time to do this. I know we’re going to … I want to go through the ultimate question book with you, and talk about net promoter scores. Maybe we’ll get through all the values first and then go into that, or maybe we’ll drop into that the next time we talk. Thank you for taking the time to do this, Tommy.


Tommy:Sure, Danny.


Danny:Yeah. Thank you everybody for listening and have a wonderful day. Take care now, bye bye.




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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Growth

ThreeWill Shared Values – Honesty

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan. Hey, Tommy. How’s it going?


Tommy:It’s going well. Enjoying the summer.


Danny:Enjoying the summer. Let me see them. Pull them up. He’s got some Clemson socks on, I haven’t seen these, have I?


Tommy:When you roll them over … It says Clemson.


Danny:Yeah, oh, my goodness. My goodness. At first, you think they’re tacky, and then you really know they’re tacky.


Tommy:Yeah, kick it up a notch.


Danny:Yeah, I don’t even know if I want to show mine off. I’ve got polka dots. I feel a little weird.


Tommy:And, they’re the wrong color if you’re wearing your collegiate colors. Mine are red and white, so I don’t know if I’ve got the right colors on, but …


Danny:Those are nice.   Are those new socks?


Tommy:I think I had these at another podcast.


Danny:Cool, cool.


Tommy:This is my second show.


Danny:Nice, nice. Well done. So, we’re going to follow our conversation about the ThreeWill culture and our shared values. This week we’re going to talk about honesty, and, of course, who else do we have representing honesty?


Tommy:Mr Kirk Liemohn.


Danny:Mr Kirk Liemohn. The appropriate person. Whoever created this website, man, kudos to them. The whole idea of someone who represents the value. I think this is really someone who does, sort of, represent the value, and that’s Kirk. The statement we have for that is, “We treat each other and our clients fairly and honestly.” I’ll go ahead and read the statement. I’ll get us kicked off here, and then, if you want to have a couple of comments, that will be great.




Danny:“We value building long lasting partnerships with clients in a fair and honest way that is equitable to both parties. Stephen Covey, I’m bringing up Stephen Covey again, calls these win-win relationships. We look to create engagements with clients that will create success for both parties. Being fair and honest is a big part of providing quality service to clients with high integrity. If we are to build long lasting partnerships with our clients, we need to be explicit in our decisions, and do our best to lead them down the right path. If a risk or issue becomes apparent, we will raise this with our clients and give them the opportunity to react appropriately, and enable them to address the problem. Sometimes this information is difficult to share with the client, but it is key to our long-lasting partnerships.” Plenty of meat on that bone.


Tommy:Yeah, you know, you can tell that when we wrote these values, we definitely were coming off of a Stephen Covey high, but, you know, he is so good at articulating the importance of shared values. This one, definitely, I think rings true and is one of those, again, high bars that you set, and as humans we always fall short of the high bars. But when I look at Kirk, I just think of meetings that I’m in with Kirk, and sales opportunities and just things in general. I think I have a conscience that says you need to be honest and speak as though the other person is present, but when I’m in a room with Kirk, I feel like I’ve got to kick it up even a higher notch. I think he leads by example, and that’s how you kind of see honesty.


I think honesty can be faked at first, but over time, people can really see where that level of honesty is when they get into tough times. When they get into little pinches, how do they react when they’re pinned in a corner. What’s that response? Here what we see with Kirk, he’ll just take that high road, and sometimes that’s a larger effort. It’s more responsibility that you need to take on. You know that statement of, ‘It creates long-lasting partnerships.’ We’re in it for the long-haul, and I think with our clients, we want to create life-time relationships and we’ve seen a lot of that over the years. It does come through honesty and making key commitments that people know what they’re dealing with and I think we all want to get down to cut to the chase and that is a lot easier with someone that you know is being honest with you.


Danny:With honesty … You remember my best friend in high school was Jack Swift and he went off the West Point and one of the things I learnt about honesty at one point in time when we met up. I don’t know if whether during college or after college, but he taught me a part of honesty is making sure you don’t do the attempt to deceive. So saying something where you’re trying to deceive someone else is being dishonest.


Tommy:Kind of the white lies.


Danny:The white lies. And so I remember him just describing something and him correcting himself because he felt like he was attempting to deceive and how much that is a part of … The place where I have a struggle with this is early on in sales opportunities. And I think its sort of like you want to spell out all the risk and you want to be upfront with everybody about all the things that could go wrong. But you want to enable someone to make a decision as well, so you have to also be able to … If I’m gonna spell out all the risk, I’m gonna spell out all the things that are there opportunity wise.


The reasons why you should do this, ’cause I think when you’re coming in and you’re being honest, you have to represent both sides of the coin, which is, ‘here’s all the reasons why you might not want to do this,’ but then you have to also represent all the reasons why you should do this. And I think it’s being balanced with that approach is very important, ’cause I know, sometimes a lot of us are engineers and we see all the risks in doing things. But we also have to represent ‘what happens if you don’t do anything at all?’ And that is a risk in itself as well and representing that in a fair way, and in an honest way during the sales process.


Tommy:Yeah. Sales process and it even carries into the delivery of a project, where the bigger the challenge, the more difficult it is to navigate those conversations of the things that come up as risks and how do you effectively communicate those. And I think one of the things that we encourage and try to do a good job at is doing risk management. And so it’s not just raising the risk, but you raise the risk along with what we think the potential likelihood of this occurring is, and how big that impact will be. And then that allows us to score the risk, to give it a sense of how important and how critical that risk is. And then as a part of that, also having a contingency plan, and a mitigation plan, and being clear about when that risk gets triggered. And so that allows you to, I think be honest in a way that doesn’t paralyze people but enables them in their decision making process and we do that …


During the sales process we’re capturing those things and especially early on in the engagement and we know that you’ve got to tease some of these things out. And you’ve gotta tease out what are the great things about what we’re doing, all of the features and benefits and pain points that we’re addressing, but also realize that things are not perfect and there’s things that will be trade-offs in that path forward. And I think if you can document those risks in a way that are not just risks but managed risks along with, ‘what are all the benefits?’ Then you bring everything to the table to make a good decision ’cause that’s what we want our clients to do, to make a well-informed decision and some of that is the negative side. But doing the work it takes to present the negative side in a way that they understand how they can work around it or mitigate that particular side of the equation.


Danny:So in our business we’re doing work directly for our client or having somebody else subcontract us out. And we’ve stayed away from the latter part, I think because of this last part here. “If a risk becomes apparent, we’ll raise this with our client to give them an opportunity to react appropriately and enable them to address …” Boy this has happened recently, hasn’t it? We want to raise the risk up and allow for the client to be able to address that risk, but we might not be the person who is raising those risks to the client. And that puts us in a difficult situation doesn’t it?


Tommy:It does. And I think you have layers of stakeholders in an engagement and so there’s things that you want to communicate that you can’t communicate tactfully, based on different conditions and different constraints. And as you are further removed from the ultimate decision maker, that becomes trickier and trickier, ’cause you have more than one boss to work with. And so, the least amount of layers there, the less work it takes to manage that. Because when you’re trying to manage something that you have someone in between that relationship, then you have to take into account their challenges, their issues, their constraints and at the end of the day it dilutes the message that you want to provide.


And that’s just reality and so you have to figure out, ‘How do you communicate that in an effective way?’ How do you enable you stakeholder to communicate to their stakeholder? And then sometimes even if we’re not subcontracting, we might be working with someone that is maybe one or two steps removed from really being the ultimate decision making. We might be working with the project manager, or maybe we’re working with the director, but there’s the VP that is really caring about this and the one that is gonna write the check for it. And so we’ve gotta work with our stakeholder to present business cases, to present the decisions that need to be made, and raise the things to the top that can get lost in a very complicated project.


Danny:Couple more questions. What happens if we’re in the situation where we feel like a client’s not being honest or fair with us?


Tommy:That’s a tough question.


Danny:Sorry. Let me give you a second to think about that.


Tommy:Well, I think you deal … And deal might not be the right word to use. It’s a relationship and I think when we come to the table, both sides have flawed aspects of what we bring to the table in building that relationship. It might be someone that might be lacking the technical knowledge of understanding the details of what you’re trying to provide, and so that becomes a barrier. I think sometimes we can misread someone’s honesty or fairness, because we don’t have a good perspective of where they’re coming from. And so it’s a journey of having a conversation that you’re feeding back what you’re saying in a tactful way, to say, “This is what I’m hearing.” And at face value to the consultant it might sound unfair and dishonest, but we can’t get to that and we can’t really make that judgment. All we can do is work within the constraints that we’re provided. Give them the details and what we’re willing to commit to and let them make the decision.


So we can take something that maybe is unfair, dishonest from face value, and what we end up doing is saying, “Okay this is what we think is the right thing to do. And we want to hear your feedback so we can understand your side.” So we’re not talking over and under each other. And then it gets to a point where you say, “Okay, can we come and get on the same page.” And if we can’t, then we shouldn’t engage with each other ’cause we’re set up for failure and that’s where it comes down to. Is the person on the other side dishonest or unfair? That’s hard to judge and I think it’s a two-way street. I think clients can look at us and say, “Waw, you’re charging us a lot of money for that.” And that can be perceived from their viewpoint, of dishonest, unfair. So you just have to work it out and then you have to decide. Are we enabled on both sides and do we feel comfortable that this is the right things to go forward with?


Danny:Sounds like you’re addressing it with one of Covey’s ‘seek first to understand.’ Really, that’s you have to understand the other person’s position. And I think that you’re whole concept of stating to them what you believe, just feeding back to them and listening to them, really is key to that. Because once you understand their situation, you might understand their intent and have a totally different picture on everything.


Tommy:Right. Right.


Danny:Very good. I think this honesty, for us, as we’re looking to it as a part of our culture, you and I are very sensitive to it I think. Especially with hiring people and I’m thinking people who would be at ThreeWill. I think we can forgive a lot of things, and we understand the situations with little white lies and things like that and being able to be understanding about people in different situations. But I think honesty is one of those things. Just be honest with us so we can deal with the situation, especially when it comes to project work.


I think it’s one of those that we really have to hold each other to a high standard, or we’re not able to work together. And so I think that’s one of those things again that when we’re looking to hire people at ThreeWill, we’ve got to believe that your intent is to be honest with your teammates, with us, with the client. Or else there’s just no way for us to build up a foundation of trust. There’s no way for us a build up a relationship with an employee or a relationship with a client. That has to be there for us to start to build trust in each other.


Tommy:All right. What I’m thinking about … Have you ever see this show, Selfridge?


Danny:No. No. What is it?


Tommy:For folks that watch like, Downton Abbey, it’s one of those masterpiece theater. It’s the story of the shopkeeper or the owner of Selfridges in London, a kind of high end department store, and I think seeing the story … Basically it’s a guy that has very high standards for people around him, but very low standards for himself. He’s dishonest with his marriage, he’s dishonest with a lot of things and then when other people do things dishonestly to him, he ends up crucifying them. And I look at it and I say, “be careful not to be that person.”


‘Cause I look at it like gosh, it’s easy for us sometimes to say, “You have to be honest to work with us.” But we have to realize, I look at it myself introspectively and say, “You know what, it’s something that I’ve got to understand that I am flawed as a human being and I’ve got to continue to strive for that.” I’ve got to have people around me to hold me accountable to that and at the end of the day making sure that I put more effort on myself, and then that in turn I think, reflects on others and encourages others.”


Just this whole honesty thing, I think we were both raised in a family that saw this as an important value and so we want to carry that forward. And then I also look at things like when I am strained, there’s things I do, that I want to take the shortcut path. You want to take those white lies. So I think it’s great that we talked about this value, ’cause we had to remind ourselves of this. ‘Cause at the end of the day we’re gonna do things that protect ourselves, but to get there we have to talk about it. And we have to, like you said, hire people that value that, that want to do the hard thing that it takes to be honest in situations. And that, sometimes is a longer journey, it’s something that’s not a get rich quick strategy. So I’m glad that we’re talking about this and challenging ourselves to say, “How do we continue to raise awareness of the people we see it at ThreeWill that are honest? And how do we continue to get better at that as an organization?”


Danny:I think a couple of ways we could do this, that I see is, one, saying “I don’t know.” Because a lot of times people want to have the answer to the question and sort of make something up and I think through the years of just learning to say, “I don’t know what the answer is for that question.” And I don’t have to have all the answers to the question. I can go research it and go do the work necessary to find the answer, but sometimes I think what’s important is, and it’s tough in our situation where we’re brought in as the experts, for folks from delivery. You want to be competent, but we need to show, as leadership in the company, that it’s okay to say, “I don’t know what the answer is to that question.” And then the other thing I think needs to happen. And I know I probably do this more at home than I do at work, which is, I express when I’ve messed up. When perhaps I’ve done something or I wasn’t completely honest about a situation, or I did attempt to deceive and I said something.


So I want especially my kids to see what happens when you’re in that situation, when you weren’t completely honest about something. And you apologize for this. And I think when we’re working especially, in whatever part of the process, sales, delivery, whatever, if there’s a time in which we feel like our conscience is telling us that something’s wrong here, to raise it up and say, “Listen guys, I thought it was this way yesterday, but I found out it wasn’t that way and I need to correct myself there.” I think whenever you hear somebody do that, you’re like okay, all of a sudden I’m gonna give that person more leeway. I’m gonna trust that person a little bit more in the future, because if they do say something and they find out it’s wrong, they’re gonna come back and correct themselves.


Tommy:Yeah. Yeah. So I think the honesty has to come with vulnerability. And I think that’s hard to do, especially in the professional setting, to admit when something that you did wasn’t with the best intentions, or you weren’t fair in that situation. It reminds me of … You sometimes start a different type of relationship when you get into those situations, and again in a professional environment, that’s harder to navigate.


I remember one situation with Eric. Actually working with Eric when he wasn’t at ThreeWill, but as a contractor at Ernst & Young, and I was the lead for the development effort and I came in one day and really got frustrated and kind of … I can’t remember if I yelled at the team or what I did, but I was something that I didn’t feel that was fair to the team. And I slept on it. The next day I came in and I apologize to the whole team. And there was something that I felt, like a different connection, a different relationship that I had with Eric, post-that. Because I think I could sense that Eric thought it was unfair in terms of how I responded to the situation where I was, quote, “backed into a corner.”


And I think a lot of these values, it’s important to not necessarily to be perfect, but to continue to be reflective on, “Am I really being honest?” Because overtime, these things can get diluted, these values get diluted unless we sharpen the saw, as Covey says, towards looking at, ‘Well what is honesty, and where do we think we can get better?’ Because, I think that we can get dull with some of these values overtime. And doing what we’re doing now, at least for me, it’s helping me recognize that, yeah these are the same values that we have, and there’s opportunity to even grow.


Danny:Great topic. Enjoyed talking with you this morning Tommy. Thanks for taking the time to do this.


Tommy:I was trying to be as honest as I could.


Danny:Honestly Tommy, this has gone a little long so … Let’s go and … Let’s put a bow on this. Thank you everybody for taking the time to listen and leave a comment at the bottom of the blog post if you have your own stories to share about honesty or anything you’d like to share with Tommy or myself. We’ll keep an eye on that and we’ll definitely respond back to it if you ask a question there or anything along those lines. Thank you everyone for listening and have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye bye.






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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Honesty

ThreeWill Shared Values – Teamwork

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny Ryan:Hello, and welcome to the ThreeWill Podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan and my co-host Tommy Ryan is here with me. How is it going Tommy?


Tommy Ryan:It is going well, Danny.


Danny Ryan:Great.


Tommy Ryan:It is Tuesday.


Danny Ryan:It is Tuesday.


Tommy Ryan:Why are we doing a podcast?


Danny Ryan:Because we did not do it last week.


Tommy Ryan:Okay. I see.


Danny Ryan:But we are back at it today. Do you have your own socks?


Tommy Ryan:Actually, I forgot about the podcast, but I got my socks.


Danny Ryan:You got your socks.


Tommy Ryan:Subliminally, I thought, I am going to do this.


Danny Ryan:I have got a pair of nice gray socks on, so no comment.


Tommy Ryan:I see.


Danny Ryan:But we are up in the Blue Ridge Mountains and we were looking at the different stores. Of course, now that is going to be my go to thing is to buy a pair of socks now. Right?


Tommy Ryan:That is Right.


Danny Ryan:Yes. There you go. And the kids know what to give me for Christmas now.


Tommy Ryan:It is not ties, it is socks.


Danny Ryan:Let’s continue our conversation about ThreeWill culture and our shared values and this week we wanted to talk about Teamwork. With that, we have none other than Tim Coalson, our poster boy for Teamwork and the underlying theme with Teamwork is that we work for a larger purpose. I will go ahead and read it and let you get us kicked off here.


We value Teamwork and believe that we work a larger purposes. People at ThreeWill want to see other associates be successful and we look at client relationships as partnerships. We keep our time small so that we can solve our clients’ problems with agility. Our deliver methodology is agile to allow us to inspect and adapt to our clients’ needs. At ThreeWill a significant part of the team culture is approaching our work with confidence, but, at the same time, humility. We believe that this humble confidence is a key ingredient to forming strong teams that include our clients as part of the team. During client engagements, we realized that we are just a project team, but part of a larger inter-dependent group that as a whole either succeeds or fails.


Tim Colson:Amen.


Danny Ryan:The end.


Tim Colson:Drop the mike.


Danny Ryan:Anything more that you would like to add to that?


Tim Colson:I love this value. It is such an important aspect of how we provide value to our customers. I was just coming off a sprint review today with a large, financial institution that is here in Atlanta. We are coming in and helping them with their SharePoint Intranet and several initiatives there. One of the things that we are doing is we are an extension to their team and we involve their team as we are accomplishing certain features that they needed to get done. We make it look like a large team because we are including their team members and valuing what they are doing. Where some consulting organizations want to come in and create a separation and kind of own it and not have any inter-dependencies, where they try to minimize that and kind of put up a silo between them and the organization. That has value, but I think it is different approach. Our paradigm is really coming in and being a part of the greater team versus trying to be a separate team.


Tommy Ryan:I imagine if we are doing this, you have to have a different viewpoint on projects. If we are working together with the client and their team is a part of our team, and what I hear around here quite a bit, there has to be a high trust environment.


Tim Colson:Yes, and transparency that comes with that. We are getting them involved with our backlog; understanding impacts to decisions on budget; and making sure that we make it easy for them to work with us and that does require trust. I think you hear sometimes the concept of the speed of trust. There is a book on that, I think Steven Covey’s son wrote one on the speed of trust. It is so critical to have a high trust environment and you cannot get that right away. It comes through some of the things that we have talked about already. Making and keeping commitments, being responsible and your client getting a sense of you making choices that are for their good that they can see that when you face a challenge that you take a path that looks like you are looking at it as a partnership versus a way that you can “get more money.”


I think our organization is really geared towards working in high trust environments. Every time we get into situations where it is low trust, you end up finding out that we get half accomplished for twice the amount of the money. And, in some cases that is the way you have to do it and that frustrates us. I am glad that that frustrates us. It keeps us kind of sharp to that whole concept of providing high value and not settling for less.


We have to help team sometimes to understand situationally what they are up against and decide what battles to fight and know that in some cases, we can only go so far in that trust relationship. We have to find the opportunity for the next commitment to inspect into that, and learn from that situation and say, how do we frame this better to put us in a position that we can incrementally build more trust, and therefore, we can go faster. We love getting things done in the most efficient way, but with people, fast is slow and slow is fast.


That is what I think frustrates an engineer that you want to engineer something to make it go faster and that human element is what slows it down. You find ways to build trust because at the end of the day, if you can build trust, then you are going to go faster and you are going to feel like you are on the same page to accomplish something that is hard to accomplish. I think we go after big, difficult problems and because of our approach to not be adversarial to the customer, that we want to be a part of their team, we try to jell with their team and do things like sprints where we can make and keep commitments in fast cycles. That accelerates stability to build up that trust that makes you go faster. I probably said too much on that.


Danny Ryan:No. This is all good stuff. I am thinking this is a shared value that we have and as we are looking at folks to join the ThreeWill team and talking with them … Maybe this has to do with humble confidence and so how do we figure out if somebody has humble confidence or not? But, how do you know if somebody is going to be a good team member and that they do value Teamwork. Is there anything that you have noticed through the years as far as a way of distinguishing that type of person?


Tim Colson:Yes. I think the humble confidence is the thing that we look for and sometimes that is hard to test for, but you get a sense of it when you see how they respond to stressful situations. Are they trying to protect themselves or are they trying to understand the situation more. You can take the kind of ego path of well, I am doing everything right and you are putting all the energy around why you are right versus maybe stepping back and trying to understand the bigger picture and try to understand the challenges that the other side is facing. We can all kind of fall victim of trying to push our agenda and not do that “seek first to understand before being understood.”


I think a humble confident person does that. They have the confidence to know that I am doing the right things as far as I know, but I need to put my ego out of the way and understand what the client wants; what their challenges are; and sometimes do things that put you in a vulnerable position where it is easier to protect yourself and prove that you are right versus trying to say these are things that we can do better and how can we approach this in way that we can be more successful. This does not seem to be working well.


I like the way that we do retrospectives and we have integrated it into every sprint. We use to do that at a checkpoint, say mid-project, or we do it at the end of the project just to learn before we do the next project with that client or another client that has a similar type of problem. Because we have done it as a part of every sprint, it becomes a habit. It becomes just part of the mentality. We always believe that we can do better and we need to get the feedback from the customer to say how can improve. If you do not have some humble confidence to you, you are not opened to hearing the constructive criticism. You typically guard yourself against that constructive criticism. As we all know, you are not going to grow that way. You are not going to get better unless you have that vulnerability to say, I did not do this perfectly. I need to understand how to do that better next time and be responsible about incorporating the feedback in a way that is recognized and makes a difference.


Danny Ryan:Nice. We were talking earlier about how Tim Colson is sort of the poster boy for Teamwork and these walls are thin, so I get to hear conversations that are going on next door to me. I saw a great example this morning of Teamwork where Tim was very thoughtful and patient in looking at a situation that could have become heated and really trying to understand. At one point in time, he was saying this might be my fault, or I could have probably done this better and really being a great example of someone saying, let us not try to point fingers at each other. Let us try to stay calm and look at what the problem is and solve the problem and not start getting upset with each other or anything along those lines. To a point, he was falling on the sword to say we do not need to get upset with each other. For me, it was another great example of seeing Teamwork today.


Tommy Ryan:Tim is probably one of our best people to come in and build a relationship and we know that is really what makes the world go around. People that can build strong relationships and can do that very quickly are people that will put their egos aside and care about the larger purpose. We work for a larger purpose is that statement that we had that supports the Teamwork shared value, and that is something that we learned from Tim. He brings that strength to the table and not only does he do that for our clients, but he does it for his team members, he does it for new people that come to ThreeWill. He is always looking to break down the barriers to make people feel at home and feel that they are valued. That is so important in the work that we do that we go in and create that environment of we are one greater team.


When we say it is the ThreeWill team, it is not the ThreeWill team, it is the ThreeWill team plus the client team as an overall team because if we are adversarial and we are trying to prove that we are smarter or better or faster, that is not going to get us anywhere quickly with our clients. We need to say that we are here to help. We are rolling up our sleeves. We are going to give it our all, and we will try to find ways to fill in the gaps that will make our clients better at what they do. We do not want to take credit for that, but we want to participate in that.


We want to make the client feel like ThreeWill encourages that environment and I want to continue to work with them because I feel like my team members grow. I do not have HR problems where people feel like, why are these consultants coming in and “taking my work.” We are looking at there is more work on the plate than there is time in the day and we all value work/life balance so we are coming in to help organize around some of that and accomplish some of that so there an even pace internally and we can come in when there are spurts. We come in for a month or two, address some big problems and keep the relationship going and then when the next spurt comes, that internal organization can keep an even keel with doing the work that they need to do day in and day out, but still feel a part of the efforts that we do. We are always looking to say, what have you done; how can I incorporate that in this new feature that they are asking for, so we are getting more out of the work that you put in place versus trying to create redundant things and trying to come up with a better service that you have already created. Let’s use that. If there are any gaps, let us help you enhance that and get more value out of the team that you have.


Danny Ryan:Great. Thank you Tom for taking the time to do this.


Tommy Ryan:Sure.


Danny Ryan:Thank you everybody for listening and have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye Bye.


Tommy Ryan:Bye Bye.


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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Teamwork

ThreeWill Shared Values – Responsibility

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan, and I have Tommy Ryan here with me . How you’re doing Tommy?


Tommy:I’m doing well. Good morning Danny.


Danny:Good morning. Good morning. Top of the morning to you. I’m taking a peak over here. What do you got sock-wise? Oh, what is that?


Tommy:That’s an actual shark eating my leg. That color it’s eating is my leg and that’s the shark’s mouth.


Danny:Nice. Where’d you get those from?


Tommy:Actually Austin was giving them to Good Will and I stole them before it went to Good Will.


Danny:No way, he was giving them away?




Danny:Nice, I’ve got my second of the sock club and this is called the Amelia Earhart or the Earhart or something along the lines of that. They give a nice little letter that goes along with it. An inspiring letter that you get at each month.


Tommy:Okay. Inspiring socks. Wow.


Danny:Yes, inspiring socks. Today we’re going to follow up with what we covered last time which was our corporate values and we talked about free will as being the first one and one of the most important ones for us.


Tommy:Yeah, good place to start.


Danny:Good place to start. Influenced the name of our company. It’s had a big influence on us as we grow the team and as we go through the years and trying to find people who like to make the right choice and recognize our God given power with ThreeWill. Next up, let’s talk about responsibility. This sounds fun, huh?


Tommy:I love it.


Danny:We have Bruce Harple as being the person who we sort of associated with this on the website.


Tommy:Yeah, good choice, yeah.


Danny:The statement for this is, “We are accountable to our decisions,” and just to get up kicked off here I’ll read what we have up on the website if you don’t mind.


Tommy:Go ahead.


Danny:We value an environment where people are accountable for decisions and responsibilities. To be responsible requires making and keeping commitments that help produce results. Being responsible is making conscious decisions in the space between a stimulus and response. A responsible person is in control of his life and is accountable for how he responds to everyday stimulus on projects for our clients. An important aspect of being responsible is proactively setting your own goals that are smart, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. ThreeWill incorporates goal setting into associates’ professional development plans but responsible behavior also comes from self-motivated individuals who are looking to add value to client engagements and internally at ThreeWill. Working with responsible people builds a high trust environment and is instrumental to highly functional teams.


I didn’t get that all out in one breath.


Tommy:I was going to say, it takes a couple of breaths to get that out.


Danny:Yes, initial thoughts on this Tom.


Tommy:Well you know I think it’s one of those things that it’s hard to do and it sets a high bar in a sense. I think there’s so many things that you’re faced with in decision-making and how you choose to structure your day to be responsible. I think there’s things that are in that quadrant too that are important but not urgent that you have to do as a responsible person to have more affective interactions and impact to your customer.


I kind of see that with preparing for a meeting. A responsible thing to do is to review what you’re going to do for that meeting. Make sure you have a good agenda set and that you prime everybody with what’s going to get accomplished. You can come into that ready and prepared to meet the objectives of the agenda or of the meeting. It’s easy for us to just get caught up with just showing up for meetings versus being prepared for meetings and that’s just one example of responsibility.


Danny:I know for me one of the things when working with perspective clients and new opportunities is creating our action plan which is sort steps that we have towards making a decision really. With that I think it has some of the aspects of setting a smart goal which has a timeline involved with it. Who’s responsible for it? Basically what do we need to get done in order for us to go make a decision as far as whether we should move forward or not move forward. I think with those as well it sort of gets everything kicked off with the idea of making and keeping commitments. You want it to be a seamless process for when we’re talking to somebody about an opportunity and we say we’re going to send them something tomorrow, we send them something tomorrow. These little things that people end up seeing and I think ultimately lead towards people trusting us and is how trust is built in general.


Tommy:Yeah. It’s easier said than done. I can tell you lately I’ve been feeling overloaded with tasks and tasks that emerge and every client wants to feel important and they are but then there’s just pure physics of things that get on your plate and things that you need to get done. I think sometimes a responsible person can make a commitment where they have to recommit but that needs to come. In my practice if I’m in that position where I can’t get something done in time, I want to ask for an extension in a sense and asking for that before “the due date” instead of the customers saying, “Well I thought I was going to get this,” and you get an email a day or two later.


That’s kind of begging for forgiveness. I think it’s good to ask for permission when you have commitments and you can’t make those commitments. I think that’s a way to look at responsibility when you are challenged with having too much on your plate.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative) hmm. Yeah, yeah. Any stories that you might have or just sort of looking back over the last 15 years or so where we’re talking about being accountable to a decision that was made? Any stories that sort of pop up? I know I’m asking this somewhat on the fly but anything where you made a decision and we said, “You know what, we’re accountable to it and we’re going to stick with this,” and where it was maybe a difficult situation where you said we’re going to stick with it. You can pick a story where I’m involved or whatever if there’s something that comes to mind with this.


Tommy:I kind of get numb to this because I think I see it all the time and it’s hard for a particular story to rise to the surface. I see it with folks that … I see it in Kirk is someone that I think is very responsible. I always feel like there’s things that get on his plate and Kirk will be very explicit of, “Okay, you just asked me to do something else. Either this is going to drop, or the other thing is going to drop.” That’s a hard thing to do when you’re a people pleaser and I think most people are.


At the end of the day people want to be affirmed that people value them and when you’re in a situation where you’re asked to do something that is going to be a challenge to get done, I think everybody here will do their best to get that done but there’s certain people that will be very clear on what that impact is. That’s a responsible thing to do. I think it helps people around them to plan appropriately so they know that okay there is an impact there and I know right when it happens what is that consequence.


That’s the responsible thing to do. I think where it gets tough is with your clients and where you’re trying to make sure what are the things I should indicate as risks and make sure that they’re well educated on decisions that they make and the impacts of those things. I see Kirk embodying that. Making sure people understand the consequence of things and he’s probably the person-everybody works hard here, but I see Kirk, when he gets into something and commits to something, a lot of times they have late hours and just he’ll find a way to get to it and get it done. That’s the spirit and I think it comes through him feeling responsible for the things that he commits to.


Danny:Yeah. I’m working with him right now on a white paper and he’s very good at letting me know where he’s at and what needs to go on next. He’s putting the content in a One Note notebook so that I have visibility to what’s been done. He’s a extremely responsible person. I think we all can learn from Kirk, definitely.


Tommy:Yeah. That takes hard work. That’s so much discipline to say, “All right I’m going to do these things because they’re important to be able to capture and make decisions from.” It’s easier to step back and watch someone take the notes or watch someone facilitate the meeting. But we’ve got people that are so great at stepping up and making sure that we’re actively participating in the things that we do with our clients and being responsible for capturing notes. For being responsible for getting the status reports out on a weekly basis and all those things. Not everybody has those disciplines and it’s great to be surrounded by people that do that.


Bruce is on that page for responsibility and it’s because Bruce is one of those guys that helps us be accountable in delivery to making sure we’re doing the things that we’re committing to. That’s a big task to take on as the leader for delivery and he does it by example. You see Bruce does a lot of the status reports and he would get those done and a lot of times they come out late on a Tuesday night and it’s because he feels responsible to get that out there timely. He might have a long day and he’ll stack that on at the end just to make sure that the things that are urgent with the people he’s serving in delivery are taken care of and then he makes sure that his tasks are being done. That’s such a hard balance to be able to stay committed to not only your things but supporting others that need your help.


Danny:Yep. I think I have a story, a recent story where instead of I think a part of being responsible is looking at reality and trying to take what you see is happening and making sure that everybody who’s involved, all the stakeholders who are involved are aware of what you perceive as being reality. I think on a recent project we saw that something was going in a certain direction. I don’t know if you’re picking up on which project I’m talking about yet.


Tommy:Did we talk about it last time I think or earlier?


Danny:Yeah, we talked about it or you’re late to this podcast episode because of it. But you ended up basically saying we need to stop a project and I think it was the responsible thing to do to say here’s the terms in which we need to agree upon before we move forward. Or maybe you tell me what was the … Because I think it was something that’s difficult for us to do. We don’t like having to pause a project or stop it. How does responsibility fit into that?


Tommy:Well in that situation, as a consulting company you want continuity of engagement so you usually like to set things up project based. We have some agreements that are ad hoc and those are great little fillers in between the projects but end of the day the life blood of a consulting organization is committed project-based work. You do that in a way that you staff the team and a sizeable team it’s probably three to four FTE equivalent team that’s working on a project, that we continue to communicate. There’s an impact here. We need to have additional budget to do the things that are being asked of. We need to have commitment that these things should be done. That it’s agreed upon. We’re working as a subcontractor and we don’t do that often so we’re not able to manage that in a way that we would like to do that so we’re trying to coach the team that is going directly to the client and helping them make those decisions.


We got to a point where the decisions weren’t being made and at the end of the day our true client is the ultimate client that’s getting the services not the one that we’re subbing through. It’s the ultimate client. We went on pause. We lost time to bill and we did our best to fill some of the time for those associates to be able to go onto other efforts mainly on a part-time basis and waiting until the decision is made. That way that client is not spending any money that they don’t want to spend and we could easily do the status quo of continuing to bill and saying it’s the client’s fault because they haven’t made the decision. We just decided we’ve got to pause because we need to be good stewards of their ultimate budget.


I think that is a responsible thing to do. That’s a hard thing to do as a financial impact. It has a morale impact because people like to finish what they start. When you pause those things it puts those things in jeopardy. It mentally is hard to say stop because you’re in that mode of getting it done and you don’t want to lose continuity but in some cases you have to do that. We don’t do that often. I can’t remember the last time we’ve had to do that.


Danny:I can’t remember either.


Tommy:A lot of times you put it out there as the consequence and you give them heads up that this is the consequence and then there’s action. We get that probably 99% of the time when we’re dealing directly with the client. In this case we’re not so our message gets diluted. It just makes it harder. The people that we sub to, they have their own challenges and it’s easy to say well why didn’t they do this. You try to work with them. You try to understand their situation and you try to enable them to be successful with them doing what they need to do ultimately to allow you to reengage.


It’s a fine line. You’re trying to play a little bit of touch love but also be respectful along the way. You’re not perfect with it. You try to understand there’s a human element to it and so you need to have a lot of conversations and a lot of times one-on-one with leadership to make sure that we’re all on the same page. That we want to make this successful and we’re over communicating to understand the situation so we can get through it.


Danny:Let it be known you have to know this. Tommy doesn’t bluff. I’m glad you went through with also I think there’s a part of this where I think being involved with this where you have to say we’re going to do this and then you do it and I think that’s an important part of it as well.


Tommy:Right. Sometimes it’s easy to threaten something then not come through with it. At the end of the day as a responsible thing to do you’ve got to set where that line is then you have to commit to following through with that. That’s definitely a hard part of it. It’ll sometimes keep you up at night when you have to make those decisions.


Danny:Awesome. Well thank you Tommy for taking the time to do this.




Danny:We’ll cover the next shared value next week and thank everybody for taking the time to listen. Have a wonderful day. Bye bye.


Tommy:Bye bye. Good. Thanks Danny.


Danny:You bet.


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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Responsibility

ThreeWill Shared Values – Free Will

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan and I have Tommy Ryan here with me. Hey Tommy.
Tommy:Hey Danny.
Danny:Let’s get the sock stuff over with real quick here, all right.
Tommy:All right. You’ve probably seen these but they’re bamboo socks.
Danny:They have a little. A little-,
Danny:Zigzag action going on with me. We just finished up with our brand promise and next up I would like to talk with you about our culture and specific, what our shared values are. The first one to get us kicked off is the most important one that we have which influenced the name of our company is free will. I’ll go ahead and just read what we have up on the website if you go to our culture page up on the website.
That is we choose to make the right decisions. That’s a loaded statement. We’ll talk more about that in a second. We value the god given ability to make conscious choices in the workplace and life. Free will is the term we use to describe the awareness that we have to consciously choose to make good decisions. At ThreeWill we encourage each other to use our capacity to innovate when solving problems. ThreeWill is summed up well by author Steven Covey in three sentences.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and happiness. At any moment we have the freedom to choose to make the right decision. This is often difficult, but it is key to helping each other and our clients succeed.”
Danny:The end, and that’s our podcast for tonight.
Tommy:Drop the mic.
Danny:Yeah, drop the mic. Of course I had to put you up. It’s got your smiling face up here when we do that because it makes me think of you.
Danny:What shall we start out with? We choose … Let’s just talk about … I think this is a fundamental belief that you and I have. That is that we have-, One of the greatest gifts from god that we have is our ability to choose. This is constantly a reminder to us that we have the capacity to choose.
Tommy:Yes. As consultants that is so important. The way projects go on at ThreeWill and the nature of the work that we do … If we can’t have people that make the right choices on their own, that that’s just their standard way of operating, then we can’t survive as a company I think. I don’t think we can function well as a company. At the end of the day we are looking for people that really value that ability to make their own decisions and choose and not be forced to a scripted path of “I don’t have to engage my mind or my heart into what I do.”
As consultants it comes across as genuine if you can tell it’s coming from the individual and not something that they are blindly doing. It comes across as caring. People that are engaged, and they make the choice on their own, and I’m not saying that there is no quote structure to make sure we do things right and repeatability, we continue to use the agile process, we continue to estimate the same way, we continue to track things the same way, but when it comes to there is a problem and I need to come up with a solution that I want to engage my mind and help my customer make good decisions.
Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative) We have a very subjective society, not to get all philosophical or anything but a lot of people don’t like to say there is right and wrong decisions and what we are saying here is what makes a decision right versus wrong. We are going to get deep here. You okay with that?
Tommy:Yeah. I’m not sure you want me to go in that direction but I will.
Danny:Okay. (laughs)
Tommy:(laughs) I do believe there is grey area. I think the only way that you can arrive on a right decision is to do that in a collaborative way, in a contextual way with your customer. One decision that might be right for customer A might not be right for customer B. You can’t make an absolute truth of this is always the right way to do it. I think there is technical things that you can look at best practices. You can look at things from a knowledge standpoint that you just have to do it this way. When it comes to providing a solution that has a human interaction component to it and there is things to consider that will make a judgement on if it’s the right or the wrong decision.
You typically see you have options. We always talk about three, things in three. A lot of times you will see we provide in cases that we are not sure what to do for the customer, we give them three options. Each of those options have a right part of it and a wrong part of it and it has to be overlayed into that customers situation. We try to anticipate what is best but we involve the customer so we can confirm we are making solid decisions for them.
Danny:I love bragging on you. This is something you do so well which is, and part of this is actually making a decision and moving forward with it. A lot of the time you don’t kick the can down the street. You don’t say “We’ll just hope this thing goes away.” I think that’s an important part of this as well is once you get together to make a decision on something and decide what is right and do that in a collaborative way you act on it.
You take, you bring it, you raise it up to the right people. You try to get the right folks involved in it and you don’t ignore reality as well.
Tommy:Yeah, and if you approach a situation where you are collaborative with your customer and you give options and you recommend … You know you want to be part of the solution like I said before. Not part of the problem.
Danny:Not part of the problem.
Tommy:As that journey that you take, you want to come in with a proposed solution but not forcing people down a path that maybe there is better options. People like to know what are my options and what would be in your opinion the best option for me. People like that. They like to have some choice but also have some guidance and expertise to say “What do you think is best?” And they can always override.
But you can get in situations where you might say the customer doesn’t decide and in a consultative way no decision is a decision and you have to take a default path that says “If we don’t have a decision this is the way we go.” I think that’s helpful for our customers. Especially when they are in situations where they don’t have the time to decide but they have to make that forward moving progress. That is important and if you get to learn to know what is important to your customer and build that relationship with them then you can more often pick things for them on their behalf and know when I need to bring something up to them to make that decision because we get into decision fatigue with the things that we do in our day to day life and so you don’t want to come in with three options for everything that you have to work on. You only decide to do that when you think it’s critical to get the customer involved.
Danny:Yep. There is an example of something going on right now where you’re having to decide on whether to stop on a project, I don’t want to obviously leave all the details out of it but you are having to make a very difficult decision and trying to make the right decision for everyone involved and I’m looking here at our statements and a lot of the time these decisions are difficult to make.
Tommy:Right. It speaks to your value, because at the end of the day if stop on this project this Friday and don’t work on the project starting Monday of next week that means lost revenue for us, but at the end of the day we see that if a decision isn’t being made then we can’t serve the customer and spend their money wisely so we don’t want to spend that money until the decision is made. It creates the right amount of tension that the right thing occurs but you hate to go to that point because it is a financial decision to make but we realize that making those hard decisions that sometimes in the short term hurt, in the long term make our customers happy that we put them in mind and we really put them first. It’s important that we do the right thing.
And it’s fair. Not putting them first where we lose but putting them first so that at the end of the day we are successful with them.
Danny:I kind of, last couple year or so kind of missed our original tagline which was choose to succeed.
Tommy:I don’t think it’s gone. I think it’s there. It’s is there, we just don’t emphasize it.
Danny:I agree, but it harkens back to what I read from Steven Covey which is “Our freedom and power to choose our response.”
Tommy:Right. It’s a tagline to our culture and it does have an influence on the work that we do and I think the whole work together better was, well you say choose to succeed, well any company could say that. How does that speak to ThreeWill? I think it speaks to how we work with our customers in a consultative way but it doesn’t speak to the types of solutions we deliver so yeah, that’s a struggle. With a lot of the things that we thought about that have endured over time, these values being one of those things, it feels like it’s there forever.
I think choose to succeed is there forever. I think we embody that in the culture. We don’t necessarily call it out on our business cards or on the website but I think it’s still there.
Danny:I’m just happy we don’t have to change the name of our company, I’m just glad we can stick with-, (laughs)
Tommy:(laughs) Yes.
Danny:Anything else to wrap this up Tom?
Tommy:I think that the free will aspect is … It’s so important, and that is why it is in the name that we want the people that are here at ThreeWill to choose to be here. And there are so many decisions that we make along the way that reinforce that that is our value, so it’s something that I hope continues to endure and we continue to share that value and embody that value in the decisions that we make.
Danny:I think that’s a great-, I mean part of creating this culture is attracting people who would want to be in this type of environment and hearing that we are not a carrot and stick type of environment, that the concept of sponsors, the concept of a lot of things that you brought from your culture from WL Gore and a lot of things I picked up from Price Waterhouse lend itself to the type of environment that we’re creating and we want to find the right people for that environment and having the right people, we can deliver the right type of service to our clients.
Danny:Awesome. We’ll be going through our values. Hurray, we have some subject for upcoming weeks and so we’ll cover the next one next week and thank you for taking the time to do this Tommy.
Tommy:Sure Danny.
Danny:Everybody have a wonderful day, thank you so much, bye bye.
Tommy:Bye bye.
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Tommy RyanThreeWill Shared Values – Free Will

Commitment – The ThreeWill Brand Promise – Part 3 of 3

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan and I’m here with Tommy Ryan. How’s it going Tommy?
Tommy:It’s going well Danny.
Danny:Good. We’re on number.
Tommy:It’s nice to be in Hawaii, the nice balmy 70 degree days. Are we in Hawaii?
Danny:No, we’re not.
Tommy:Oh, we’re in Georgia.
Danny:No we’re not.
Tommy:In January, it’s 70.
Danny:We’re not in Hawaii. You’re mistaken my friend. I wish we were in Hawaii. We should have our annual getaway in Hawaii or something.
Danny:For planning for the next year? How’s that sound?
Tommy:Run it by J. M.
Danny:I’m sure he’ll approve that. I’m sure he’d be just fine with that so we’re on number three of three of three here. This week wanted to talk to you about the third C which is commitment. Most people are afraid of commitment. We’re not afraid of commitment are we?
Tommy:No, not at all.
Danny:No, no, well.
Tommy:We wouldn’t be here today doing this thing called ThreeWill if it wasn’t about commitment.
Danny:Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely, so we talked about the first week was about control and then the second week was about choice and this third week is about commitment. There is, I think along with this you can’t talk about commitment and not talk about trust. I think that’s a key part of this as well which is to do what we do, we have to build up trust with the clients that we’re working with. Just to get us kicked off here, I’ll talk about the first part of working with a new client is a couple of conversations that we have about what they’re trying to do and during that time, I like to make little small, say I’m going to do little small things and then come through on those small things because I think that’s how trust is built up. I say, you know if I say I’m going to send you an email by the end of this day then I follow up with an email by the end of the day.
Danny:It’s, I think this is where commitment comes in to play. We often say around here making and keeping are commitments and those small commitments are even as important as the big commitments.
Tommy:Yeah and I think those two parts, making and keeping, it’s hard to make commitments, right? It’s easier to kind of lay low and not have to get the attention from people through a commitment but then when you make a commitment, keeping the commitment is hard also. We’re in a very busy world that there’s plenty of distractions and you can get overloaded with commitments so it’s that balance too to be able to make a commitment and you need to know that you can keep the commitment before you make it and that’s not always easy.
Danny:Absolutely. I know one of the things that I’ve worked through experience wise is and I know we have to do this delivery on projects as well which is when you make a commitment, there’s a part of you that says oh, I’ll get it to you by the end of the end of the day today or by the end of the day tomorrow and how you sometimes over commit, sort of saying, you’re trying to get something, you want to get something back to somebody but then you might, other things might come up and I’ve sort of learned through the years to yes, make a commitment but also, along with that realize that other things come up that could get in my way of meeting that commitment.
Tommy:Right. Yeah, a lot of times when it comes to me personally, if I look at making a commitment, in your gut it says okay, I can do this by the end of the day and then I make the commitment for the end of the next day because of that of reality of you’re not sometimes in control of those urgent, important things that pop on your radar that you have to give space for. If you say well, I’m not going to do that and that’s the only time it can occur, then you end up being in a bad position really at the end of the day. You have to give that space to allow for the things to come in that you can’t control.
Danny:This reminds me of you know we’re big Covey fans. This reminds me of the emotional bank account where you’re trying to build up that relationship with someone else where you’re making these deposits and I think making and keeping commitments is one way of making deposits into people’s emotional bank accounts.
Tommy:Yeah, and also along the lines of Covey, that visual that he does where he talks about big rocks you know really comes from First Things First. You have those big rocks, those very important commitments that you make and then you have the pebbles and then you have the sand and then you have the water that if you’re not putting those commitments out there, you’re not putting the big rocks out there, you will definitely get the sand and the water to fill up your day and so that’s the challenge of being conscious about making good commitments. That shows up so much in the work that we do, when we’re looking at making commitments at the level of an estimate.
Tommy:It’s that fine balance of we’re looking at what is it going take to do this, try to keep it as lean as possible but also give margin for things happen and things are not perfect and every organization gets work done differently. We have to be aware of that and not put our stake holders in a bad position where they can’t complete things because it’s under budgeted and that’s gosh, it is a little bit of an art. I think at the end of the day it’s through conversations and trust that you find what is that middle ground of what’s something that’s not too high of an estimate but not too low because they’re kind of common sense. You go too high and it can’t be done and it’s always quote, easy to do a high estimate and really protect yourself and all the hard work is going into okay, what are smart assumptions we can make that we can still hit that commitment, meet the business need and be wise with resources, with funding and people.
Danny:I know I’ve recently heard on one of the projects and I think it was one of the Jive migrations where the client said well, I didn’t have to worry about the ThreeWill stuff cause you guys just took care of it for me. It was like, it was almost like he was in his mind he knew there were different parts to this project.
Danny:He knew the part that we were responsible for, we were going to get done.
Tommy:Yeah, you love to hear that. I mean that’s music to your ears when you hear that because that’s the effect that we want to have, that your life is complicated and we should be part of the solution not part of the problem.
Danny:You got it right that time.
Tommy:I had to say that slowly cause I was listening to the bloopers.
Danny:If you listen to the bloopers you’ll understand why he was very, very particular and slowed down there and made sure, you hit it Tommy, well done.
Tommy:Because, that is very important of being part of the solution because at the end of the day, we don’t need more problems. That’s easy, that happens all the time and so being committed to our customer’s problems and as we’ve said before, treating them as they’re our own, really caring about that, it shows. I think it’s contagious and people want to see that over and over again so we look at starting projects and this can be difficult at times, starting projects at a level that we can make a commitment and keep it. With a new customer sometimes that’s a smaller project and sometimes that’s not easy to find as your first engagement so what is surprising to I think some of our customers, is we’re not looking for the million dollar starting project. We’re looking for that 50k project so it allows us time to establish a relationship and allow us to make bigger commitments down the road.
Danny:I think the way that Scrum is set up with it every two weeks having that checkpoint, it’s almost like a checkpoint against the commitments that you’ve made for that period of time.
Tommy:That’s right, yep, yep.
Danny:I mean it’s sort of built in to what you’re doing which is really, we’re not going to get very far if you say I’m gonna get these things done during the first sprint and they’re either done or not done by the end of that sprint. You can’t go on without making and keeping commitments.
Tommy:Yes. Yeah. It’s definitely part of our philosophy and why Scrum rose to the top when we looked at standardizing on a methodology back in I think 2006 that Scrum was that lightweight way of showing that you can make and keep commitments.
Danny:If I turn the table on this and say do we need clients that make and keep commitments, I think that’s just as true because.
Tommy:It is.
Danny:We’ve had it, we’ve had experiences where we’re doing things. If they were easy projects, they would be done internally, right?
Tommy:That’s right.
Danny:These are usually very complex projects and we can do as much as we can on our side to do things right but if we’re not working, if the client isn’t making and keeping commitments, we can fail just as easily.
Tommy:We can and so it does come to that trust and there’s a little bit of faith going into your project that the other part, the other side, is caring about being successful too because as hard as you can try, as much as you can do on a project if you don’t have a committed customer, it will fail.
Danny:This is where often, especially if they’re maybe larger engagements or things that I see or require an action plan where we’ll sort of early on I’ll try to put together you know, these are the steps that we need to take together to get to this end state. As part of that action plan, I’ll have you know I love the things that I have to do cause I know they’re going to get done and they’re up to me to get them done but as part of that action plan too, typically there’s maybe two or three things that I’m relying on the client to get done by a certain time and I’m paying attention to see cause if they’re not able to do it early on in the process, when the project comes around, it’s gonna take longer. It’s going to be more expensive for us to deliver and so it’s almost like I’m getting some clues to say are they going to be a good client or not? Are we going to be able to pull this off successfully together?
Tommy:Yeah and it’s hard to know where that breaking point is.
Tommy:You also see a client that has a hard time making commitments, sometimes it is due to them being overloaded or them not having a decision framework to work within where we can help ’em with that. At the end of the day, we do get into situations where we have to in a sense, punt and say gosh, this company needs this work done. They’re probably going to outsource it but based on everything that we’re seeing in the sales process and the relationship building, it’s set up for failure. That’s hard as a small business you’re always looking for that next opportunity and to turn something away because of that, it’s a hard decision to make.
Danny:It is a difficult decision especially when you’ve invested so much time and energy before that and just to be able to say you know what, this is not going to work out. I think it sets us up so that it’s only right to do that for the delivery team because if you see those warning signs early on, you probably are … It’s a pretty good forecast of what’s going to happen in the future.
Tommy:Right. Right, yep and what we end up doing at times is to scale back on the commitment so at least you get a test cycle and you reduce the risk of the impact of failure. Sometimes that failure, you can crawl out of it but there’s a cost, there’s say a lot of non-billable time, a lot of management time to figure it out and get it done but then you have to step back and reassess to say does this make business sense now? Should we continue to do these types of projects or work with this particular customer knowing what we know after that first project.
Danny:I love working with you Tommy because part of this is I know you’re committed.
Tommy:Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Danny:You are, when you say you are going to do something, you do it and it’s just, it makes, as our partnership goes, it just makes things so much easier to work together when you know that the other side is going to come through for you so I appreciate that Tom.
Tommy:Well thanks Danny.
Tommy:I am human.
Danny:Yes you are.
Tommy:I think there’s a lot of times I fall flat on that but I think it’s we both care and want to make sure we’re doing the right thing.
Tommy:It’s not just for our customers, it’s for the people that work at ThreeWill and so I think, at the end of the day, commitment really makes a difference and I think we see that in the organization as a whole. It is part of the culture. It’s not just one person. I think we learn from each other here at ThreeWill about what it is to be committed to your responsibilities.
Danny:I think a part of this is I look at ThreeWill and over the last fifteen or so odd years, is we really do because we’re so committed to our clients, it takes a lot of our brain power, our will power to focus in on that and we’ve been more intentional about focusing in on how can we help our clients versus all about ThreeWill growing and how fast can we grow and it’s about us and let’s do this and I think part of just what we’ve built as a great small company has been because of this willingness to be totally committed to clients and to projects that we’re on.
Tommy:Yeah. Yeah, the nice thing about it as a small, privately owned company is that we can focus on the customer and realize that if we focus on the customer, we’ll be okay. At the end of the day we don’t need to have metrics of we’ve got to grow by this much each year. We’re looking at being committed to the people that work at ThreeWill, to make sure they have the stability that they need to support their families and get a good income to be paid for what they do well and then at the end of the day if there is growth out of that and we enjoy that growth and it makes it a richer environment at ThreeWill, we embrace that. If it’s we’re the same size from this year to next year, it’s not seen as a failure, it’s seen as we continued to do what we committed to do for the year which is serve the customers.
Danny:Awesome. I missed the socks, we didn’t talk about socks. Let’s see.
Tommy:Yeah, so I prepared for this one.
Danny:All right, let’s see ’em.
Tommy:I went all the way to Clemson to get the national championship socks.
Danny:Oh. Oh my goodness. Do they have national champion somewhere on this thing?
Tommy:No they don’t but there’s a lot of paw on there.
Danny:Okay, I need to take, I’ll take a picture of that and also take a picture of mine now these are the ones, these are my Christmas socks that I got from Molly.
Tommy:Okay, dalmatian, okay.
Danny:They’re actually, it’s a little Boston terrier with a little Christmas cap on.
Tommy:Okay. All right, nice.
Danny:I know it’s not Christmas but it’s what I got for Christmas and so I’ll wear it after Christmas but yeah, congratulations Clemson.
Tommy:Thanks. Oh, awesome win.
Tommy:Love it. Love it, love it, love it.
Danny:I’m so glad you guys pulled through. At the end there I was like oh, it was a.
Tommy:It was a nail biter.
Danny:What a wonderful game though.
Tommy:Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Danny:To see what was the name, Renfrow, what he was able to do as a, he was a walk on? Was that right.
Tommy:Yes. Yeah and he was the last person to get a walk on scholarship. The last pick, it’s amazing and he’s only a sophomore. He’s just a humble, he doesn’t look like a football player. He just looks like a regular Joe that you don’t think he could play football.
Danny:I love that Dabo Swinney wears his relationship with God on his sleeve and I also love how much he emphasizes family. I think you guys are going, you’re gonna go, people are going to look at this and those people, recruits that you’re going after, the parents are gonna look at this and they’re going to see Clemson as a family. What a great sort of metaphor model to set up as an organization.
Tommy:Oh yeah. Yeah, I think he’s creating a legacy by the way he’s approaching it. It’s long term thinking.
Danny:If I could have afforded to go to Clemson, I might have gone to Clemson but you used up all the money, you bastard.
Tommy:Hey, talk to your dad about that.
Danny:Hey dad, mom, I love you guys but you spent so much money on Tommy and Deanna. Private school? Really? Really? No, I’m.
Tommy:The struggles in life are good. You went to Georgia Tech, that’s not half bad.
Danny:Georgia Tech is not half bad, it’s a wonderful school to go to but yeah, we were fortunate.
Tommy:Bobby had to go in the military, he couldn’t even go to school.
Danny:Nice, nice, nice. Well, thank you everybody, we appreciate this time. Thank you Tommy for taking the time to do this every week.
Tommy:Sure thing.
Danny:It’s great stuff. I really enjoyed this conversation today about commitment. If you could, feel free to leave a, if you’re looking at the blog post, leave a comment at the bottom, it would be wonderful to hear back from folks and thank you for taking the time to listen to this. Have a wonderful day. Thank you, bye bye.
Tommy:Bye bye.
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Tommy RyanCommitment – The ThreeWill Brand Promise – Part 3 of 3

Choice – The ThreeWill Brand Promise – Part 2 of 3

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Danny Ryan:Hello and welcome the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan, and I have Tommy Ryan here with me. How’s it going Tommy?
Tommy Ryan:It’s going well. Good morning Danny.
Danny Ryan:Good morning. How’s 2017 treating you?
Tommy Ryan:The Clemson Tigers won national champions, treating me well, treating me real well.
Danny Ryan:That’s right. You mentioned earlier you got Austin socks on. Let me see them.
Tommy Ryan:There you go. A little alien action.
Danny Ryan:Some alien action. Well done. What’s that? Looks like a blood red moon?
Tommy Ryan:Yeah.
Danny Ryan:Very nice. I’m wearing some socks that I got for Christmas as well.
Tommy Ryan:Plaid?
Danny Ryan:A little plaid action. A little red and black, don’t call them UGA socks. I got them from Mamie so they are probably UGA themed. Let’s talk. Let’s pickup the conversation from last time. We’re talking about the ThreeWill brand promise. The first thing that we talked about was control. Everybody loves control.
Tommy Ryan:Yes, we do.
Danny Ryan:It’s good, and it’s always good to make sure that the client maintains control of the project as things progress. That was a great conversation. This week what I’d like to talk about is choice. We’re on the second of the three Cs here. What we have on the for a website copy is because we deliver working software every two weeks we earn our client’s business every two weeks. That’s maybe an interesting concept that sort of ties itself to scrum, which is we have these two weeks sprints and we’re delivering software every two weeks.
Tommy Ryan:Right, and that plays into the control aspect but also as you look at choice, allows us to reset commitments every two weeks within the framework of what the project is trying to accomplish.
Danny Ryan:I remember from my Pricewaterhouse days, or Pricewaterhouse Coopers I guess it’s called nowadays, we used to do projects that lasted years, and so this whole concept of we’re going for every two weeks you’re delivering software. I guess what’s often happens on projects is at the end of that two weeks we may have, what do they call, a ramp down sprint or a transition spring after that. We do get to the point where we’re delivering working softwares, which his a pretty novel concept.
Tommy Ryan:We’ve had some customers where we alternate a sprint that builds functionality that’s proven and tested, and then a release sprint to get it out to production, or that might be also going to a cue, a UAT environment where there’s more involved in that deployment cycle. It’s not something you can do in a matter of hours to a day. It takes several days to go through the full cycle. We found that as an interesting pattern.
Danny Ryan:I know from working with Bruce and some of the smaller projects we do even we reduce the time of a sprint to a week. I’ve seen that happen as well, and that’s pretty amazing that we’re turning things around that quickly.
Tommy Ryan:Especially if it’s not involving a lot of code and it’s more configuration-based. Also if it’s a very small project where if it’s a four week project, three week project, you want to have enough inspection cycles to adjust before the final touchdown of the project.
Danny Ryan:What I like about choice is it sort of has the underlying, brings us back to our original tagline which was choose to succeed and reminds us of our value of free will, which is you always have a choice that you can make, which I like that that’s a reminder to all of us.
Tommy Ryan:It is. I think probably what we think is one of the more important aspects of what we do with our customers, and it starts from the beginning of the sales cycle all the way to the end. When we’re proposing work to a customer we’re looking at a backlog where we show options that they can choose from. We try to make each of the backlog items as independent as possible so it’s more of a shopping cart and allows them to pick what is the most optimal set of features against a budget and timeline to accomplish the goal that they’re going after.
Danny Ryan:I know one of the things that you and I have always, with consulting it’s sort of you want to make sure that you’re delivering for a client and doing things that are really valuable. Some consulting firms have the philosophy of let’s get in and never leave and make ourselves indispensable so that they’re constantly coming back to us. Walking that fine line versus building a partnership where you are doing things over multiple years. I know with the stuff that we’ve been doing with sustainment recently we have been doing things where we’re setting up the structure where we’re not doing something and walking away from it.
Tommy Ryan:There’s two aspects to that. One is our roadmapping where we give vision over time of what can be accomplished, and as a part of that roadmap a lot of times you see sustainment in there. The sustainment is trying to go in a lightweight way, a predictable way, that’s in a sense low cost versus trying to keep a full team in place with more of a fractional team member that they feel that the knowledge is not lost when we leave and we can be there to support them along the way as much help as they want.
Danny Ryan:I know with some of the migration projects that we do, like with the Jive to SharePoint, they’re not feeling like they’re locked into Jive or with the multi tenant, excuse me, with the dedicated to multi tenant they’re feeling like they’re not locked in, that they have a choice. I think that’s sort of when we look at things … We do a lot of stuff with Microsoft so you have to decide on what you’re focusing in on and what you’re great at. I think underlying to some of those projects is giving a client a choice to go in a different direction and not making them feel locked into something.
Tommy Ryan:I think you’re saying the migration practice that we have is allowing people to make a choice to go either to a new version of SharePoint or go from Jive to SharePoint. Just happened to be something that allows people to move forward and not feel stuck in a sense.
Danny Ryan:Great. Anything else with choice at all that you’d like add Tommy?
Tommy Ryan:I think it really goes throughout the project that we want to have enough interaction with our customers to allow them to understand the decisions that are made and how that impacts the success of the project or what gets accomplished. That has to be done through a relationship where we’re closely working with our customers and understanding what’s important to them so we can get them involved when they need to make choices and allow them to make choices at the right time. Sometimes you can get into the rut of just trying to get the project done and not surfacing up and recognizing this is the point where the customer needs to make a choice because they have choices now versus if I wait later then there’s less choices to be made. You’re almost kind of forced down a path.
That’s a hard balance. I think a lot of people feel like, “I’ve got to get the project done. I’ve got to go heads down and make it happen.” We need that spirit but also it has to be in balance with when do I need to get the customer involved so they can make the right choices at the right time. There’s an art to that I think. You can’t necessarily engineer it into the project where it’s automatic. I think there’s a bit that comes with experience in understanding who your customer is and when is the right time to get that type of customer involved in the process.
I might be a little bit vague here, but I think it’s just trying to say that choice comes through a commitment to caring about giving your customer a choice. I think you can remove choices to make your life simpler and in a sense maybe even get more dollars out of the project. We’re always looking to have the largest impact, the most value, at the end of the project. That comes from consciously thinking about when does our customer need to make a choice and for us to give them those options, make it easy where we provide that free pass that they could take in understanding the impacts of those pass so they feel like, yes ThreeWill didn’t put me in a position where I was stuck. All along the way they brought me into the process to make the right choices.
Danny Ryan:I think this is a great point. A lot of it’s when talking with folks initially I often find out that they really want to have an option A, B and C. If you have too many choices it cripples them. If you only have one choice you’re not really letting them make the decision. Often we come back with you have these three options to choose from. There can be variance of those options, but it really helps them to make the decision if you can come back to them with a handful of options to choose from.
Tommy Ryan:I think our environment we talk about in coming to the table with solutions not problems. Coming to the table with options that we’ve thought about that allow the customer to make a decision quicker, make an informed decision, and doing it at the right time so we optimize the impact of the project.
Danny Ryan:I’ve seen, and this is through the years, some of the best ways of earning trust from either a prospect or a client, which is if we really want them to make the right decisions sometimes we come to a conclusion where we’re not the ones implementing it or there’s another solution that’s out there that really is the right choice for them but we’re not the ones who are doing it. I think that earns a lot of trust. If somebody sees that there’s a project that we could go after but it’s really not the right choice and we’re not recommending that.
I’ve had people come back, I remember where it was one client where we said, it came down to an area that we didn’t have expertise and I didn’t think we were the right person to go do that. Many years later they came back and they still remember that we did that, that we were really trying to figure out what was best for them.
Tommy Ryan:I think the whole trust thing is what is the fuel for having a high impact project. Through decisions that are made along the way where we’re showing them that we have their interest in mind, and this is speaking to commitment and caring, which I think we talk about next time, is that really allows us to go faster. At the end of the day I think we always want to go faster and that can’t happen unless there’s trust in the whole choice thing of where we bring up things at the right time that the customer feels like we care and we have it under control, which is what we started with, allows them to build up their trust with us.
When we have clients that have high trust, and that comes over time, that ends up being the clients that we have, probably the highest value where we can get more done because we know how to act on their behalf. They trust that we’re going to make good decisions along the way and bring them in when they need to make the right decisions.
Danny Ryan:We’re giving them three choices to choose from. We’re helping them make that right decision for them, and then finally in that next week we’ll talk about commitment, which is now we’ve decided what we’re going to do, now we have to go deliver this, right?
Tommy Ryan:That’s right. It’s got to get done at the end of the day.
Danny Ryan:It’s got to get done and am I working with the right partner to go get this done. Let’s talk next week about commitment. Thank you Tommy for taking the time to do this.
Tommy Ryan:Sure Danny.
Danny Ryan:Thank you everyone for you taking the time to listen to this. Please drop by the site. I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment on this. Thank you so much for listening to this and have a wonderful day.
Tommy Ryan:Bye bye.
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Tommy RyanChoice – The ThreeWill Brand Promise – Part 2 of 3