General cleaning in the company
Last year was enchanting. Specifically - a complete ass, and only now, when we have well drilled the season, I feel that you can exhale a little.
The fact is that we suddenly for ourselves became a big company with all the ensuing shortcomings. They used to think that fattening is part of the process, and you just need to relax and have fun. Nope. At the same time, they caught the tail of the crisis and took a good ride on it.
Do you know what a big company is? This is when you don’t know someone’s face. When there are people in a team who work according to their duties without understanding what their work is for. When the simple task “print a sign with the text in the store” begins to walk as agreed and is solved in 22 days. The real case. This is when the contract is signed for 4 months. And a bunch of other jokes of the animal grin bureaucracy.
Raking it all up ... hmm, well, let's say, fun.
Beginning of the year 2017: open the Pandora's box
Now - just episodes. I’ll write systemically how we taxied out after some time, when it will be clear that everything is more or less stable and there is some practical experience to share. In the meantime - just a stream of consciousness with bright moments of the year.
Here is January, Dima Borisov winked slyly and called into the meeting room. He said that there he laid the table. He took all the bills that need to be paid in order to continue to work normally - for example, how much money is needed for the goods in order to optimally expand the assortment to a good level, what shops need (outdoor advertising and various engineering pieces), all kinds of things in the office that we put off due to the crisis. And he laid the table with them. Literally. Mostly lapped. A large table was completely covered in bills. You could walk around and look at them. And quietly fuck.
Money - after the New Year holidays - we had on the account. And if we pay the bills, and the year is the same as 2016, it will be incredibly bad. The main question was whether the company worked effectively. Specifically: 1) What will be the sales, if we assume that we will solve all issues with the initial financing? 2) Will the company be profitable in this case? 3) How to track the loss of money during the year, given that 25% of revenue falls on the last month?
Two weeks of discussions, picking in numbers and gatherings with laptops and Excel showed that not everything is good. From the numbers and rational conclusions, it followed that our company was ineffective. That is, we did something wrong, and for quite some time.
We looked with a fresh look at the office. A pair of acquaintances of large uncles suggested what to look for. Here are 4 of our key symptoms for a differential diagnosis:
- The office staff left at 6 pm, you can check the clock - before many had to finish things because their eyes burned to create garbage.
- Disputes were resolved only over the head - that is, most often two employees could not agree at their level. This is not very correct, and there is even a whole book called “Collaboration” about it. This I later found out.
- A regular answer to the question “Why?” - “I don’t know, they always did that.” In the exact sciences, such an answer is unacceptable, but we kind of did business as an experimental process.
- Instead of meaning - following the instructions. A similar symptom. Yes, on the one hand, when a new person on the 3rd day of work says that we should try it wrong - we may have tried it and wrote about it in the instructions. But when a knowledgeable specialist makes an obvious senseless garbage just to cover his ass in a bureaucratic way - well, that's not how we imagined the dream office. The clearest example for me is vacancies. We always wrote vacancies very clearly, with an illustration of the working day, with a clear guide to salary and what it consists of. A couple of times the staff missed the bureaucratic hell, a couple of times no one could say exactly how much the specialist would receive.
Please note that these are exactly the symptoms, that is, the signs. Properties (syndrome) affected the financial aspect and the model.
And we started spring cleaning. It turned out that the comparison with the cleaning is very cash. Until you decide and stop everything to get out, nothing will change.
This is more like company refactoring. At that moment, incredibly clumsy shoals climbed out from under the spud, crutch solutions began to crumble, and in general everything was burning. Because our ideas about the company and reality were slightly different.
Beginning of 2018: what have we come to
Perhaps the best way to describe the situation is with the words “technical duty”. In the crisis of 2016, we covered everything with crutches, and they accumulated a bit. Only crutches, not technically, but organizationally. That is, such an organizational debt has accumulated.
Symptoms, again, are:
- There are carriers of unique knowledge. The thing is that when someone goes on vacation, part of the processes may fall off, because no one knows how they are done. An example is the announcement of a free game library in a cafe. The process was held not on the department, but on agreements with its leader. We started to create a knowledge base (still in process, but the lower level of documentation is ready).
- The coordination chains were lengthened — clear, simple interaction schemes were needed.
- The connection between line personnel - our front line - and those who make decisions has been lost. That is, people are doing something, but they don’t understand exactly why and why. There is no way to verify the correctness of their actions outside the instructions.
- There were a lot of old tasks that needed to be solved.
- There were people who could obviously be replaced by a script.
To clear all this, first of all, it was necessary to set a goal. And the goal automatically means control, that is, constant monitoring of whether we are going there.
There is a story of IBM with their elephant on the dance floor, there is a story of aluminum production with their “safety first”, there are many other stories. That is, you can use two approaches - either to give a very clear guide ahead, or to start splitting the company into small and interacting ones, so that everyone has their own goal.
We divided Mosigra into retail, distribution, online store, master franchise, production and publishing. Retail stores games in stores and maintains its IT accounting. Distribution ensures the availability of goods and trades in bulk. An online store is a call center and delivery. A master franchise is an interaction with franchisee partners and an analogue of the “disassemble” folder on the desktop, foreign expansion. The whole core team of the kernel is grouped there, because we are not only dealing with desktops. Production collects games from atoms, while the publisher is responsible for intellectual property.
The division process took almost six months and was accompanied by heated discussions, where is whose piece. Of course, we lost a lot of things at the junction of companies, but gained much more. The companies themselves have changed a bit: for example, there was already a case when production did not place its direct order, but boxes for equipment (because we are one of the best cover-bottom boxes in the country thanks to the Frankenstein line), and the corporate department is in distribution ordered the production of the game not at our facilities. Competition!
It was very important to split the cash flows. If before the question was “what is more important - equipment or utility bills in the store”, now each company in the group has its own budget. That is encapsulation. The sensation, as if from one long piece of such a linear code jumped onto the OOP. Yes, there are data exchange costs, but the benefits are obvious.
Here is another episode. Lawyers created a circus. Andrei Sitarsky decided to make out everything there and began to establish such a coordination process so that the documents went faster - two weeks instead of two months became a normal time. There was a "red corridor" for urgent documents. We concluded a couple of times with a foreign legal entity in 2 weeks, which would have been a six-month quest before.
At the same time, a wave of fake board games surged into the market. You will laugh, but the tables are also faked. The problem is that all sorts of "Kurkodily", "Wando", "Shakgaly" and "Manchiken" are made so disgustingly poorly that they turn people away from further purchases. Andrew began to sue those who sell it. We used to sue those who produce for the use of registered trademarks.
Development and production burst at the seams. At the beginning of the year, we shared production facilities with a publishing house (intellectual property with an assembly line) - Tikhon, a former manager, left to build a clothing factory from scratch (in the end, he now builds a football club), and Kostya (the one who invented the miracle glue from post about the Frankenschein monster) began to restore order. Many details also surfaced.
Development - they just started to refactor everything and everything. This is the topic of a separate story that I told on the Joker. In short, the phrase “So what, should I check every checklist item now?” Drove into a stupor.
Two stores opened under our sign without our permission. They had to close them together with “Mozgigra” through the court, but, thanks to Andrei’s inhuman sense of humor, we did it promptly and very enchantingly. From the attempts of the owners to erase the traces of the network at the last moment was ridiculous.
A phishing mirror of the site has appeared - a full copy. Fortunately, they decided in two days, the hoster reacted very quickly to the decision of the court. Then the story repeated itself.
I also squinted cool. We have always had a culture that if you see something that can be improved, go and do it. And then a conflict was born between my experience and knowledge of how everything works, and new people. They wanted to try something that I already went through about 8 years ago. And I cut them the initiative, and quite tough. And it was right to let me step on this rake, because even if in 20% of cases my estimates are out of date - it is very profitable. This was a lot where in the departments. There was a feeling that we all the time miss some opportunities and are late.
At one of the conferences, the uncle-director Danny Perekalski from Ozone said that he did everything so that his employees would again be purchased at his company, ordered to his office. Before that, they bought in other places. According to the results, it became clear where they are underworking - what is not, what is expensive, why delivery is too slow, and so on. We listened with smart faces, came to the office and arranged a racket. Specifically:
- The online store began to report every day on cancellations of orders and reasons.
- All orders “canceled due to lack of goods” came to the purchasers, and they personally reported to the general manager why there was no such product.
- Introduced fast from the store delivery of expensive - for those who need 4 hours.
- All questions like, “Do you have such and such?” Began to be recorded and also redirected to the purchase in the daily report.
Result: we learned a lot of new and interesting and reduced the number of cancellations by almost half - and these are dozens of orders per day, even in the off-season, in the summer.
What is important
The first lesson in obesity is to maximize the delegation of solutions to where the problem arises. In any hierarchical company, questions still reach the top, and then they go back. The correct phrase is “I have no right and competence to decide for you, you are a performer.” For a number of reasons, we went half measures - at first we sharply truncated the hierarchy by the separation of companies, and only then did we start to implement something more modern. Now we are just at the stage of experiments with the new architecture, while it is too early to talk about the results.
The second lesson in obesity is to communicate faster. Telegram in silent mode is an ideal story if you need to clarify something. Telegram chats are excellent project trackers if you communicate on business. Coordinations in a telegram are generally fantastic in speed. Many still do not believe me, but I believe that mail is an inveterate slow crap. I note that just a couple of years ago I was categorically against any messengers.
The third lesson in obesity - the goal should be visible everywhere and to everyone. If we decide that customer focus is more important than short-term profit, then this is what you should do. For example, a customer came at 21:01, and we seem to be closing already. What to do - let in or close? Of course, let it in. A buyer came and asked us for a specific game that we did not have. What to do? Find this game in another store (even with a competitor) - and send the buyer there. And inform the purchasing department that there was a request for such a product that we could not satisfy. Because there is a goal. This should be understood by everyone in the store. That is, not to have a set of rules for all occasions, but to know how these rules are derived.
The fourth lesson is monitoring progress. When you honestly recognized where you are now, and have already conveyed the goal to everyone, you need to monitor how you manage to go towards it. This is a system of regular reports - no matter how bureaucracy it seems, it is needed. These are the plans. This is communication with competitors and coordination of actions. This is a lot more.
Well and more. In the eyes of each new client, we start from scratch - no matter how we serve all the previous ones. All 10 years of experience mean nothing. Every new person is everything from scratch. You can not go to fame, no matter how positive it is.
We shook the team for a year, changed the pace of work, again saw the burning eyes of many. Most importantly, we again became small and fast. If more correct - a cluster of small and fast companies. We again reached good combat effectiveness, but we continue to rebuild the company. And I'm not sure that the way we work now is the apotheosis of good governance. We are likely to redo everything a couple of times.
Well, and of course, in the course of the changes, we again cut the jambs, for which in places it is very embarrassing. Here’s a couple of months since they sent out a mailing list for partners where I added fish about the negotiation place - they didn’t change it, and flew away "A business meeting will be held in the gateway at McDuck." I laughed and banged my head against the table. And such moments - every week. This, let’s say, gives a light pleasant shade of madness to everything that happens.
In general, I think our next annual cycle will be fun. Highly.