Becoming Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Our mission at Archetype is to grow extraordinary companies through operationalizing innovation. So, after the fourth CEO in under a week told us that she’d taken notes on what we’d shared about the organization-wide project we’ve launched at Archetype to manage the economic and public health challenges we’re all facing, it made us think it was time to share more broadly.
In early March, as it became clearer that COVID-19 was growing into a prolonged crisis, we launched an internal project (named after the Daft Punk song) focused on getting “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” during these extraordinary times. The project is being led by a cross-functional and multi-experience level task force charged with focusing all of Archetype’s disparate perspectives and expertise on initiatives that would allow the organization to come out of this situation more resilient and impactful than pre-COVID-19.
HARDEN YOUR FOUNDATIONS
Resilience is a critical success factor for any business – and all of us are having it tested now. As COVID-19 started to spread internationally we moved to increase our financial resilience. We made sure our lines of credit were secured and in place to fund Archetype for multiple years, not just 2020. We also stress-tested all of our current budget assumptions against multiple scenarios and tightened our cash management process. Being able to communicate financial confidence to our employees, clients and partners removed the (natural) concern they might otherwise have had as economic activity came to a halt in many segments of the economy.
Resilience isn’t just capital management, however. It is also being able to create a remote environment that enables, empowers, and supports our employees, our clients, and our partners. While Archetype was already set up for remote work, like most companies, we weren’t fully prepared to have our entire company work remotely. Once that became a possibility, we quickly hardened our IT capabilities by agreeing on new norms for technology use to enable efficient communications and protect our assets. The speed at which we were able to create these new norms allowed us to transition pretty seamlessly into a fully remote work environment within two or three days.
BE BETTER THROUGH TRYING TIMES
One of Archetype’s core values is designing with empathy. We seek to understand our clients and partners so that we can address their unmet needs – both known and unknown. As the crisis has unfolded, we’ve been in constant contact with our clients – many of whom are experiencing extreme stress. As a company we’ve always put long-term partnerships at the center of our business model and, in this current situation, we’ve prioritized that over short-term financials in order to be able to best support our clients through this crisis.
We believe that now is the time to make relationship capital investments in return for long-term value.
It’s not just with our clients that we want to strengthen goodwill. At Archetype, we’ve always looked to do good, not just well. Stories of individual and community compassion are one of the few sources of light from this crisis. We know that we can always do better when it comes to doing good and it’s that knowledge that is pushing us to deliberately raise our game in supporting our community through this crisis. You can follow some of what we are doing to support our community on our LinkedIn page.
MOVE FAST, BE DELIBERATE, BREAK LESS THINGS
Making rational decisions and planning, to enable agility, are two other Archetype values serving us well right now. There is an unprecedented need to continuously and urgently adapt and innovate in order to not just make it through this situation but to come out of the other side an improved organization. At Archetype, we’ve combined a willingness to experiment in the face of great uncertainty with rigorous discipline – building hypotheses and collecting data to inform our decisions. This has enabled us to uncover opportunities and move with urgency to capitalize quickly on new paths while protecting us from taking on undue risk.
MAKE YOUR PEOPLE STRONGER
In a conversation with the CEO of one of our portfolio companies, we discussed how the future will treat those organizations that did not make their people first priority during this time. We both shared the view that this will be a delineation between great and average companies.
We aspire to be the best company to work for in Philadelphia and Hyderabad (and wherever else our future takes us). So, we are harnessing this unique opportunity to double down on our commitment to employee development. Our culture of continuous learning was fueled by in-person conversations and peer-to-peer learning. Moving to a remote workforce has put strain on this element of our continuous learning processes. In response, we’ve tasked everyone in the organization to find new ways to strengthen our development culture by putting it at the forefront of all that we do.
COMING OUT HARDER, BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER
We are fortunate at Archetype to have a set of values that guide us under more normal operating conditions as well as extraordinary ones like these. We’ve been able to lean on those values as a shared language as we consciously evolve our organizational culture. So, while it feels COVID-19 has left nothing untouched and caused almost unimaginable distress, we will look to lead with positivity and in doing so be more able to address the next challenges and opportunities to come.