Building international operations based on a supra set of shared values – Nic Di Iorio

There are two ways to look at Technology: tech as a support function, which is perceived as a cost directly linked to the optimization of operations, and indirectly linked to the generation of money; and, tech as a product, which directly generates money. Nic Di Iorio, CEO of NeoDev Technologies, has had ample experience in both the aforementioned. I am excited to be in conversation with him today and learn more about his experiences. 

We discussed that you’re supporting start-ups and fast growing companies, by taking care of all their processes except their core business, correct? That boils down to building an organization for, or maybe even better around a product. How do you approach such a challenge?

“From interactions I have had with new companies, it appears that there are always periods of instability and uncertainty during their early growth stages. Like when companies are evolving from start-ups building POCs and MVPs to scaling their products/services and looking to become viable and sustainable businesses. It is usually a function of the scarcity of suitable resources, inexperience of the leadership and the potentially unrealistic expectations of the investors. 

“During these phases, these young companies receive funds from investors who endorse their plans conditional to performance. And, full of natural hubris, the young companies are inevitably prone to overpromise on commitments and deliverables. In many (if not most) cases the end result is the distancing of the CTO, CEO or both since they usually are the founding members. 

“Our goal is to be a resource to these companies and their investors. With the objective of supporting the technical and product leadership by providing expert counseling regarding growth strategies. Further, we supplement their core resources with complementary teams to maximize acceleration toward their commitments and objectives. The intent is to enable the internal core resources to focus on the most important aspects of their product and its deliverables. All while off-loading from them all corollary requirements necessary to make the business sustainable. 

“Our approach does not contemplate the provisioning of individual expert resources at low cost. Instead it works with the core leadership in designing external teams complementary to their internal core teams aligned toward shared objectives, commitments and methodologies.”

You also have serious experience in setting up tech support companies, staffing them globally and making them successfully operational. What are the main lessons you learned from this and how can you apply this experience to start ups here in the U.S.? 

“Building a globally distributed organization, by default, entails weaving together a multitude of cultures that manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Cultural differences are not at the continental level but at the individual country level. I would argue that marked differences in behavior are discernible amongst the different states/regions/provinces of each country. The objective is not to enforce rules that subjugate the individual cultural differences, but to foster and nurture a supra set of shared values. 

“Assuming that the former is achieved, I’d offer the following 3 suggestions: firstly, collaboration beats brilliance; secondly, discussion beats acquiescence; thirdly, decision beats inaction. I do not mean for these suggestions to be as draconian as they sound, so let me elaborate. 

Positive and proactive collaboration is necessary. Brilliance is highly desirable but rarely sustainable without an aptitude to share, debate and collaborate. Respectful open discussion is fundamental to growth and knowledge, acquiescence without debate is a symptom of disinterest or disengagement. Informed and timely decisions are at the core of moving forward, inaction due either to lack of drive or analysis paralysis are detrimental to the team, the organization and the company. I recognize that there are matters that require 100% precision of execution the first time out. However, I have opted to perform enough analysis to identify the direction forward to the destination and start moving toward it prior to knowing exactly the most precise shortest path it. I found this approach to be more productive. 

“I would like to stress that working in a distributed environment, endemic of a global organization, requires adherence to well defined and agreed upon rules of engagement. It also requires a proactive and positive attitude, at the grassroots, necessary to mitigate the structural impediments (i.e., different time zones, language and cultural barriers). It is essential that everyone embraces the organizational structure and its working methodology, and contributes to its continuous refinement.” 

In discussion with Nic Di Iorio, Collaborative Leader and CEO, NeoDev Technologies

Tags: Nic Di Iorio, NeoDev Technologies

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