The standard core responsibilities for companies are these: the stockholders, the employees and the customers. And unfortunately at many companies, the core responsibility in practice is to only the stockholders and senior executives. That leads to a very short-sighted company — generally trying to cash-cow existing products.
At Windward our core responsibilities are employees, customers, and being profitable.
First is employees. We ask our employees to gives us everything they’ve got. It’s a 40 – 44 hour/week job but it’s a very VERY VERY intense work week. People give it every bit of effort, intelligence and creativity they’ve got.
In return the company needs to reciprocate. This runs the gamut from compensating them well to treating them well to ensuring that their jobs will be here 5 years from now.
Second is customers. We create our products because they make customers’ lives better. A lot better. And that’s not just the programming. It’s the support, it’s the focus on the customers’ needs by sales, it’s everything we do.
Customers put not just their money but their trust in us. We’re getting married to them and they depend on us to be there, not just today but 5 or more years out, and to grow our systems to meet their future needs. We must be worthy of that trust.
Third is profits. Windward is not venture-funded and it’s always been profitable. And those profits go 100% to two things:
- Increasing our reserve so we can run 1 year with no new sales (key to being here 5 years from now), and
- Hiring more employees (key to improving the product and selling more).
These responsibilities have kept us focused on long-term success and continuing to improve the products we offer. That’s a lot more enjoyable than trying to have a liquidity event in 18 months. And it’s definitely a lot nicer than being in a position where, if additional funding is not found in 3 months, the whole thing is shut down. That would be screwing with the lives of our employees as well as the people at our customer companies who depend on us.
I’m not saying our approach is better; it’s clearly not for some cases. But it is the approach we have chosen, and it works very well for our employees and customers.
Thoughts? Let me know in the comments section below.
Author: David Thielen
Dave, Windward's founder and CEO, is passionate about building superb software teams from scratch and dramatically improving the productivity of existing software teams. He's really proud that he once created a game so compelling (Enemy Nations) that a now-professional World of Warcraft player lost his job for playing it incessantly on company time. You can read more from Dave on his personal blog, and at Huffington Post.
Other posts by David Thielen