Scout Technology Guides: Our Culture Journey
Starting with the Why: an interview with Scout founder Matt Dryfhout
Recently, our Matt Dryfhout sat down for an interview where he was asked to discuss the culture of what it means to be a Scout Technology Guide. Scout was one of six companies that were selected for this opportunity out of nearly 350 total peer group members.
Initially, the “why” for starting my own business was pretty simple: it was the opportunity to become my own boss. I realized later that this was less about the opportunity at the time and more an inevitability as it is the way I’m wired. However, another characteristic of my wiring is always wanting to understand why things are the way they are.
Almost a decade later in 2013, I was sitting in the audience at Connectwise’s annual partner conference, IT Nation, when Simon Sinek challenged us to figure out “Why do you get out bed every morning and why should anyone care?” This resonated deeply with me as 10 years into starting the company, I had no real answer to that challenge. This was the start of my culture journey.
Fast forward to today, 14 years in, I have bought out both business partners with whom I started the business. We have completely rebranded and built our culture with a purpose revolving around the statement “Simplifying Lives”.
Early in the discovery of “Who are we?” and “What does it all mean?”, we found a recurring answer to Simon’s question through our work attempting to simplify lives by helping people with their technology and business challenges.
Our Core Values
We further built out our values complementing our purpose and ended up with this:
We simplify lives. Let’s start with yours.
At Scout, we love helping organizations design and implement technology that makes everyone more productive.
Anchoring our purpose and three pillars of servanthood are our core values. Our core values are the fabric of our character. They are non-negotiable and influence every decision we make. Living and breathing our core values allow us to be the very best version of ourselves and when we are the very best version of ourselves, our team, clients and community win.
We take pride in serving our peers, clients, and community.
We build strong relationships with our clients and connect them with the right technology.
We take ownership and never give up!
We work closely with you to understand your needs and meet them.
You trust us to guide your business through what you will need in the coming weeks, months and years.
In order to reinforce that we actually care about these values, there is an open forum for peers to submit examples they witness of peers exemplifying any one of our core values or purpose. I give out restaurant gift cards to each of the recipients at our monthly staff meetings where the submitter reads aloud their submission.
Another testament to our commitment to this (and trust in our team’s integrity) is that there is no limit to the number of cards I will hand out on a monthly basis.
Our People First Strategy
In building a business that revolves around long-term relationships, with high emphasis on values and people, our single biggest strategy has been less about the E-Myth systems and process building and more about finding and acquiring the best-fit people first.
Because of this people first strategy, we have exceptionally high retention and low turnover. For many years, we didn’t have the credibility to make the claims we do today. But this summer I was so excited to celebrate Kris’s 10 years, Marcel’s 8 years and Paul’s 6 years. See below a picture of our serve value wall in our office:
There is nothing I hate more than fake. If I make a statement about our company, we better be able to back it. Therefore, for many years, even though we knew we were building something special, I would stray away from commenting.
However, now that we have a track record and realize this is more than just a few lucky hires, we use it in every external touchpoint.
I’ll list a few examples, starting with our office. We’ve branded our office with similar messaging as our webpage, but with the majority of it revolving around our purpose and values.
We make it a requirement when courting new prospect clients that our proposal presentation happens at our office, where we will have the chance to properly share who we are and what we’re all about. If the prospect is not willing to invest the time to learn and connect with us in this way, it speaks to their level of commitment to the new relationship.
Secondly, our hiring process is unique in that we invite 5-8 prospects to our office at once, and they interview together with a couple Scout folks. This allows us to efficiently meet a higher number of candidates than if we started with one on ones. Furthermore, it gives us the opportunity to share our culture with a great number of people in our community.
We send them off regardless of the outcome of the experience with a thank you gift for coming, and they leave with an impression that at Scout, something is different.
Exemplifying Our Core Values
When developing our values I tried really hard to capture the collective answers of the whole team. But, as we moved further into defining, this became harder. I generally don’t like imposing my beliefs on others and this is what it felt like for me. However, I realized that this was actually my duty as the Founder and CEO: if not me, then who else?
Patrick Lencioni gives the same advice in his book The Advantage. The core values and purpose of the company not only need to be aligned with the leadership, they need to be exemplified.
This is the burden I proudly carry as I see it followed by our team of servant-hearted people. When you get it right, this is not something that feels forced; it is who you are.
If you expose this to your prospective client and talent markets, it will attract people that share the same values. From what I have seen, this has been our recipe for success.