Inspiration It’s all in our DNA

The­re are sta­tis­tics that say that 80% of all start-ups fail in their first three years. S#!t!
Is our down­fall in sight? Nope, and plea­se keep it that way.

SAPE­RE­D’s first fis­cal year is com­ing to a clo­se and what a suc­cess­ful year it has been! Inde­ed, we can say that 2021 has been a gre­at year eco­no­mi­c­al­ly, but that is not what moves us or our busi­ness. We haven’t writ­ten any finan­cial goal all over our office walls and have not lin­ked our account balan­ce to a count­down that trig­gers con­fet­ti can­nons when we meet a tar­get.

To be honest, our suc­cess is pri­ma­ri­ly the result of a gre­at deal of per­so­nal com­mit­ment. We put our who­le hearts in, part­ly worked bey­ond our own per­for­mance limits and tried to com­pen­sa­te for that in the team. And, it worked out, some­ti­mes for the bet­ter, some­ti­mes for the worse.

Howe­ver, we are awa­re that this isn’t an ide­al and cer­tain­ly can­not be a per­ma­nent sta­te. We keep working on our­sel­ves and cri­ti­cal­ly ana­ly­se the way we work so that we don’t belong to the 80% men­tio­ned at the begin­ning who clo­se their chic start up office fore­ver wit­hin the first three years.

Actual­ly, what I’m real­ly like is very dif­fe­rent. I just so rare­ly find time for it.“ (Ödön von Hor­váth)

If the­re’s one thing we don’t feel like doing at all, it’s beco­m­ing a com­pa­ny that fits this quo­te. That is why, in the last few mon­ths, we have worked par­ti­cu­lar­ly hard on under­stan­ding what makes up our iden­ti­ty.

Why are we doing this and isn’t it a bit late after twel­ve mon­ths?

We try to build a mea­ning­ful, peop­le-cent­red and role-based orga­ni­sa­ti­on that remains true to its own values. When foun­ding our com­pa­ny, we thought that we could quick­ly set in stone our pur­po­se, values, visi­on, mis­si­on, etc. once and for all. That did­n’t work out. We found out that we had atta­ched a gre­at deal of impor­t­ance to the goal and far too litt­le to the pro­cess of get­ting the­re. So, let’s start again from the begin­ning and get it right this time around.


The gre­at SAPE­RED pur­po­se tour­na­ment

In the begin­ning was the Pur­po­se. We need mea­ning to exist in the long term. This isn’t some­thing new, but it is still very dif­fi­cult for us to track down this (com­mon) pur­po­se and to for­mu­la­te it.

The pur­po­se tour­na­ment of the Neue Nar­ra­ti­ve maga­zi­ne hel­ped us with this (Link to the tool). To keep it short: after defi­ning our sta­ke­hol­ders, each employee drew up an indi­vi­du­al pur­po­se draft. We exp­lai­ned the drafts to each other in groups of two, only to dis­card both ver­si­ons and to deve­lop a new one based on the fin­dings of the exchan­ge. This updated ver­si­on went on to the next round. We con­ti­nued with this tour­na­ment-like pro­cess until we obtai­ned the win­ner pur­po­se draft.

We can recom­mend the tool to every com­pa­ny, but there’s a catch: ins­tead of for­mu­la­ting a new pur­po­se draft in each of the small groups, we took the best of both drafts and sim­ply put them tog­e­ther. This was the path of least resis­tance but… it didn’t lead to a com­ple­te­ly satis­fac­to­ry result. We wan­ted to com­pro­mi­se and that did­n’t work. So, a com­pa­ny should have lear­ned to argue” befo­re it embarks in a pur­po­se tour­na­ment.


A year ends, new pos­si­bi­li­ties lie ahead

Pur­po­se does not replace visi­on, i.e., a very spe­ci­fic pic­tu­re of what the world will look like in a few years’ time and what role SAPE­RED will play in it. We want to use the end of the year to refi­ne our visi­on. Tog­e­ther with our part­ner me&company, we have star­ted a seri­es of work­shops in Decem­ber in which we are taking ano­t­her, clo­ser look at our visi­on to deri­ve our stra­te­gy for the com­ing years. In short: we are asking our­sel­ves what is cur­r­ent­ly the most pro­mi­sing path that we can take towards our visi­on. Our pur­po­se draft and the values on which our endea­vour is based indi­ca­te the way for­ward. In the next blog post we will be hap­py to tell you which methods we use, how we found to our values in the first place and how we mana­ge to inte­gra­te all the­se things into our dai­ly work. Spoi­ler alert: A real­ly bad retro­spec­ti­ve mee­ting hel­ped us a lot. Stay tun­ed!

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