I love riding.
It is not so much the “wind in the hair” feeling that I like. (The helmet takes care of that particular feeling, anyway); rather, it is the choices you make about the route, on the fly, and the effect those choices have on your destination that makes the ride interesting. Sure, you decide that this morning you are riding to, say, Avalabetta or Anchetty. And sure, you look up the route on Google maps. You might even have a GPS unit strapped on to the handle bar. All that information is of no avail once, as the cliché goes, the rubber meets the road.
You will probably not be able to traverse the intended route to the destination. When you are riding at speed, things change – you might not see the turn off; that specific road that you want to turn into might be blocked; you might have a flat; this road, right here, looks more interesting than the one you intended to take; Google asks you to turn into a road that does not exist – and, if you are like me, you don’t really slow down and ask!
When you ride a bike and come to a fork, you are at speed. If you keep dithering and second guessing your decisions, you will get nowhere and more importantly, you will be standing more often than riding. What you do is, when you come upon a fork on the road and there are no markings, you make a decision whether to turn left or right and power on. If you have made a wrong turn, it is not really feasible to retrace your path and go back and make the right turn. You have to carry on and try to get back to your intended route or find a new way to get to your destination. As long as the general direction is right, you largely end up where you intended to go.
In fact, I would argue that my most interesting rides have been when I have got lost. I may not have reached where I want to go but I sure as hell have reached the place by an interesting route!
When I look back at the past year for Last Mile, it kind of feels similar to one of my rides. Only, on this ride, it feels like the roads and the destination are moving around too!
When we started the year 2017, we intended to make the company generate most of its revenue from projects and have a set of intellectual property assets that would make our consulting world class. We intended to be known for our expertise and recognized as thought leaders in a few areas.
When I look at where we are now, at the end of the year, I see a company that has more of its revenue coming from consulting. We have executed a few projects successfully; while one of the projects failed spectacularly. We have started taking baby steps in building our IP, and contrary to our expectation, that IP has centred mostly around our project execution capabilities rather than our consulting practice. We are being solicited by quite a few companies abroad wanting a trustworthy, expert QA partner and we have cautiously responded positively to a couple of overtures.
Along the way, we have made a few wrong turns and a few fortuitous right turns.
After a few missteps pursuing services business, we took a conscious decision to invest in our people. Now, we have built a good set of people who have good project experience, and are confident in their expertise, capable of effectively handling new, unheard of challenges.
An incentive scheme intended to direct people’s development has been replaced by a more direct scheme that lets people see the impact on both the company’s revenue and their own passbooks.
When endless capability statements proved unconvincing to prospects, we redirected our efforts into creating demos for our concepts. We have seen that effort rewarded by a positive response from every person who has seen them.
Is it where we thought we will be at the beginning of 2017? No.
Is it a good place to start the next year with confidence? HELL YES!
At the cusp of 2018, Last Mile is focussing on 3 specific capabilities for the future: Customer Experience, Information Security and Analytics testing. We are going all-in in these areas and committing to investments around them.
Will the coming year reward this focus or spurn them? Who knows!? But the ride will be interesting for sure!