By Chris Wollerman, Innova-Mobile eCEO
I'd like to share a story about how Inspire! has made a huge difference for our organization.
We formed InnovaSystems in 1997 as an agile software development company to support the national security strategy. After working at several large defense contractors who were failing at their software products, we felt we could offer something unique and innovative.
I nearly quit the business altogether after working on a project in DC which spent over $2B of taxpayer dollars and then got cancelled before it ever made it to production. Instead of quitting, my wife Lynn and I formed a small company and hired our first 5 people who were passionate about our mission to try a whole new approach. We worked in some really poor environments such as dusty warehouses and WWII barracks buildings on base but the team didn't care, they loved their jobs supporting the military and contributing something meaningful with results. The customer response was great and over the next 12 years we grew every year by 10-20% based on the success of our apps and word of mouth with no marketing or business development.
In 2009, we had a wake-up call. For the first time, we had to lay off employees (about 5% of our workforce), growth had stalled, customer satisfaction was mediocre at best and employee satisfaction was at an all-time low.
After completing my Masters of Science degree in Executive Leadership at USD, our executive team took Ken Blanchard's 'Executive Challenge' to the MSEL alumni to help our employees win at work by implementing some his strategies in his latest book. Apple had just released the iPad 1.0 so we decided to implement a tool that would allow employees to partner for performance by tracking values, roles and goals during our weekly planning process and share their development levels on tasks with their supervisors. Our strategy for 2011 was to improve customer satisfaction scores by maximizing performance. Every supervisor was trained to hold weekly 1-1 coaching sessions with an emphasis on employee satisfaction and strategic goal progress using the Inspire! App. Our Marine business unit was the first to score all-A's on their customer scores and every other business unit report cards came in throughout the year with exceptional grades. Just last week, we received our final 2011 report card from our biggest contract that covers eight large projects. We went from B's and C's to straight A's which will help us with all future contracts. Our employee satisfaction scores have gone up and both 2011 and 2012 will be our best financial years yet. Integrating Inspire! into our leadership development program has had the biggest impact of any training in our 15 year history.