Critical Numbers™: EBITDA
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Critical Numbers™: EBITDA
Teknion is a boutique technology consulting firm that specializes in data and analytics services that allow their clients to unlock the hidden truths buried in their data.
While the owners of Teknion had built the foundation for a growing business, they wanted to go further by raising up a generation of technical consultants that actually understand how a consulting business operates and makes money. “Our goals had historically been based exclusively on top-line sales growth and not profit,” says David Brown, Teknion’s Chief Revenue Officer. “We needed a way to break down our expenses in a way that our people understood.
After first learning about The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) a few years earlier, Teknion’s leadership team committed to reading Jack Stack’s book and attending the annual conference in 2019, which, Brown says, was a “game changer.” The team then committed to hiring their coach, Kevin Walter, and kicking off The Game for the whole company in January 2020. “We burned the ships and committed ourselves to GGOB,” says Brown.
After seeing their profits erode despite their growth over the past eight years, Teknion saw EBITDA increase 138% (193% as a percentage of revenue) while revenue grew 23.5% in 2020. “We firmly believe GGOB was instrumental in Teknion hitting both its revenue and profit goals in 2020 despite significant covid-related market pressures in our industry,” says Brown, adding that the company also experienced zero turnover—adding eight full-time employees.
“GGOB has been HUGE for Teknion. We have grown, our employees are engaged, and we are all rowing in the same direction as never before. One big area of growth has been in our corporate communication. Before GGOB the majority of our organization would be going into the end of the year not knowing where we stood against the bonus plan, but we now have a weekly update letting us know where we stand. This was especially critical in 2020 after COVID hit—nobody was questioning the security of their job, despite the most uncertain labor market since the great depression.”
~ Preston Howell, Client Success Leader
The Teknion team had already engaged in opening its books and teaching financial and business literacy throughout the organization when the pandemic hit. When the first shutdowns occurred, and the firm saw that it was going to take a serious revenue hit, the team was able to use their Huddles to communicate what was happening—and take action. “Everyone understood the ramifications of what was happening,” says Brown. “It was sobering, but not fear inducing. That wouldn’t have happened pre-GGOB.” The team adjusted expenses significantly, increased their digital marketing and outbound sales activity, and leaned on employee relationships and client referrals more strongly than ever before. “These were all behaviors driven by the fact our employees were informed, engaged, and had A Stake in the Outcome®,” says Brown.
Teknion has successfully played numerous MiniGames since their GGOB kickoff last January. One of those games focused on getting the consultants on the team to improve their forecast accuracy. “We all recognized that we needed to get better at forecasting revenue from our existing clients,” says Brown. “Now, the team is more informed and has taken a greater sense of ownership of the numbers. Nobody wants to miss their forecast.”
“GGOB has been fantastic for encouraging teamwork and team mindset. There is much more of a "we are all in this together" spirit since we started. I think this, more than anything, pulled us through the pandemic so successfully. Without GGOB, remote work would have led to far more disengagement and loss of focus.”
~ Nate Mackenroth, Senior Consultant
The Teknion team has already made the move to begin its planning process much earlier in 2021 than ever before. They’re also moving aggressively into increasing the number of participants in their High-Involvement Planning™ process and expanding the number of people taking leadership roles in their weekly Huddles. One area of improvement they would like to see is in the team recapturing some of the creativity around its MiniGames going into the future. “We need to recapture the zest of the MiniGames and not just focus on the meat,” he says. “We need to get back to having more frequent MiniGames that have some flair.”
“GGOB has had a profound impact on Teknion. As a consulting firm, it has traditionally been hard to empower our consultants to feel as though they have significant ability to impact our growth. They traditionally feel as though "billing more" is the only means of impacting the bottom line, and that only sales has the ability to impact financials. Now, through GGOB, everyone truly feels a stake in The Game and understands better the various levers that can be pulled to improve the business.”
~ Aidan Casey, Manager, Strategic Initiatives
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