Running the technology consulting firm Slalom, Brad Jackson was accustomed to helping others solve business problems for their future.
So, as his own company grows, he and cofounder John Tobin seek opinion from their own employee investors and clients to find the next path. That task can be daunting, especially as Slalom now has nearly 5,000 consultants in 25 offices across the United States, providing data solutions to forefront technology clients that include Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and Salesforce.
Jackson rejects the top-down approach to planning, seeking a broader range of insights to develop a strategy people believe in. The approach emerged in 2013, as Jackson considered the possibility that “maybe the best ideas were not from the loudest voices in the room.” The company interviewed every employee to generate 373 “big ideas,” winnowing them down through voting and analytics to 20 priorities centered on three themes. The soundness of that plan has been borne out by how fully it was embraced and by how effectively its goals were met. It is reflected in Slalom’s compounded annual growth rate of 34.3 percent, with sales rapidly approaching $1 billion (projected at $804.5 million in 2017).
Notably, this rise is without any acquisitions, driven solely by client satisfaction. Slalom continues to plan collectively, refining the process to stay focused on Jackson’s ultimate vision of mutual satisfaction between employees and clients.
“It’s incredible to see the things people are thinking about, [are] exposed to in their lives and their work,” Jackson says. “We are a way better company because of it.”