I joined Virtana last year as President and CEO … in the midst of a global pandemic. And I am more optimistic about the future of the company than ever.
Companies built to last navigate trends and economic challenges such as COVID-19 and take advantage of the window to re-invent themselves, while keeping sights on the long-term – and ultimately come out stronger. That is exactly what we did last year. We accelerated the company’s transformation by expanding more aggressively into the hybrid cloud market.
COVID-19 fast-tracked the future of advanced digital technologies, making companies more human, and organizations will change forever and for the better. Vaccines will bring an end to lockdowns, consumer savings have risen, debt has lowered, and more stimulus is on the way. If you connect these dots, I am optimistic that America is best positioned for much stronger economic growth in the second half of 2021 than we have experienced in decades.
Virtana is well-positioned to help companies accelerate their digital transformation and drive human progress. We are on track for three quarters in a row growth – with new executive leadership, an active strategy to expand in the cloud market, and our new SaaS Platform having earned a flurry of recent industry recognitions. However, we are just getting started; the best days of the company are still ahead of us.
To prepare us for the future, I have spent a lot of time in the last several months listening, asking a lot of questions, and learning—and then working with the executive leadership team to crystallize the vision, purpose, and core behaviors for our company.
The Virtana vision and purpose
Our vision is to provide a simple software platform that leverages high-definition precision data insights to manage, monitor, and secure any workload on any cloud for hybrid IT customers.
Why do we do it?
Our purpose or mission is to simplify enterprise cloud complexity and accelerate digital transformation to drive human progress. It sounds lofty, but it is true. In fact, it is something the company has been doing for years. For instance, one vertical we are particularly strong in is healthcare. We are proud that we were able to help our customer AstraZeneca manage their hybrid cloud complexity last year to enable agility and cost savings so they could focus on developing a critical vaccine during the pandemic—and that is just one example. So, while Virtana may not directly save lives or otherwise drive human progress, we enable those who do.
But it is not enough to define just the what and the why. If we don’t also clearly articulate how we are going to accomplish the vision and purpose, those statements will never be more than motivational posters on a wall. How you make them real is through actions which, as they say, speak louder than words.
This is where core culture behaviors come in.
Why should anyone outside of Virtana care about our culture?
I believe that it is equally important for companies to address talent and culture as much as they address customer churn or competitive advantage. As Peter Drucker so eloquently put it, culture eats strategy for breakfast. In other words, Virtana’s culture directly influences our ability to fulfill our vision with our platform, so our customers can accelerate digital transformation of their own vision and purpose to drive human progress.
Our core culture behaviors are our promise to you and your company’s mission
We undertook a robust, months-long process that resulted in five core culture behaviors. I use the word “behaviors” not “values” as they relate to culture, and this is deliberate. Values are passive—they are simply qualities. They signal how you should be, but do not help you achieve that state. Behaviors, on the other hand, are concrete. They are expressed as actions, which provide a roadmap for how to get from here to there.
Core culture behaviors define what we expect and encourage every person in the company to do. It is how we work, treat customers, and treat each other. It also provides a way for everyone to know what to prioritize and how to make decisions, even in the absence of specific instructions. When practiced effectively, core culture behaviors create an exciting workplace and, more importantly, a sustained competitive advantage.
By promoting and rewarding these behaviors in our own company, we are enabling everyone here at Virtana to do the work you need us to do so you can fulfill your own company’s mission.
- Embody people-first servant leadership
- Foster customer obsession and innovation
- Promote diversity and inclusion
- Measure what matters (OKRs)
- Help each other
We embody people-first servant leadership
I am very passionate about servant leadership and talk about if frequently (see here and here) but more importantly, I encourage everyone, no matter their level of seniority, to practice servant leadership. We expect our leaders to treat leadership as a service, to the team members and to our customers. Servant leadership means that leaders exist to support their employees, not the other way around.
Servant leaders focus on the needs of others before considering their own. At the core of this belief is that a leader exists to serve their people; the leader acts as a guide and mentor to encourage team members to fulfill their highest potential by providing coaching, opportunities to shine, and motivation. Those served should ideally become freer, wiser, more autonomous, and more capable of becoming servant leaders themselves or reaching what they aspire to do and arrive wherever they want to go. Leaders at Virtana exist to serve our customers. The job to be done by the leader is to help our teams realize their full potential and to help our customers achieve their objectives. At Virtana, humility, approachability, and being grounded in hands-on reality are defining characteristics of a successful leader.
“People-first” reflects the fact that we are in the business of hiring and developing talent. It is our most important asset and one that deserves continuous learning and development at all levels. We are serious about developing people in their current roles and for future roles at all levels. Business is dynamic and technology is constantly changing. Developing new knowledge and skills keeps us all enjoying our work, while keeping the company relevant. Talent is one of the areas where we would like to create competitive advantage.
We foster customer obsession and innovation
Virtana has always been customer-focused, as evidenced by our incredible customer base, some of whom have been with us for many years. Additional recognition of our customer-first approach can be seen through our all five-star customer ratings on Gartner’s Peer Insights and an award from Gartner recognizing Virtana as a ‘Customer-First’ company.
Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Professor developed the theory of “disruptive innovation” and “jobs to be done,” and the book The Innovator’s Dilemma said, “People don’t just buy products or just want to use a certain service. They ‘hire’ them to do a job.”
At Virtana, we are obsessed with empathetically understanding the ‘job’ customers want to hire a product or service to do. What is the outcome they want to achieve?
With a focus on outcomes, we jump-start innovation to create products. This outcome-driven innovation (ODI) fulfills our customer needs for the jobs to be done (JTBD).
True innovation requires risk, and we will take risks in the service of our customers to solve their problems, not just for the sake of innovation. When we experiment with a focused goal in mind, failing fast and learning fast, we build success for our customers, our teams, and our company.
We promote diversity and inclusion
Part of what helps us innovate and better solve customer problems is having more ideas. Diversity creates a competitive advantage. It is not about whose idea it is, but about getting better ideas to address the challenge at hand. When we listen to be inclusive and incorporate diverse points of view, the best idea can win.
We accept each team member for who they are and encourage them to bring their whole self to the company. By respecting both similarities and differences in others, you open the door to opportunity.
We believe diversity and inclusion generate a better strategy, better debates, and better outcomes.
We measure what matters
Metrics drive behaviors so if we want the correct behaviors we need to manage the right expectations and priorities and measure accordingly. This means focusing not on activities but on outcomes that deliver results. By aligning on objectives and key results (OKRs), we can focus on what matters and hold ourselves accountable to do what we say we will do.
Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel and author of the book “High Output Management” said, “Create an environment that values and emphasizes output.” Peter Drucker, the founder of modern management, created the term “activity trap.” We love what Andy Grove said and we avoid focusing on activity traps.
We help each other
This is another area where the team excels across the board—and we will continue to help each other, to collaborate, and to solve difficult issues together.
We are one team with one dream, which is to work on the Virtana vision and fulfill our purpose.
This is how we run the company and how we engage
This is an exciting time for Virtana and for our customers. We are growing and are expanding our product portfolio with the Virtana Platform to help customers solve their most pressing hybrid cloud migration, cost control, performance optimization, and monitoring challenges.
Formalizing these core cultural behaviors is a vital part of being the organization our customers need us to be.
President, CEO, Board Member of Virtana