As the CEO of organizational development (OD) consulting group ODScore, Christy Pettit spends her days “solving problems and creating opportunities” to help companies of all sizes enhance productivity and performance. And, as ODScore embarks on the launch of an ambitious new venture called GlobalOD, it’s clear she walks her own talk.
The brainchild of Pettit and business partner Giovanni Salas, GlobalOD is a technology platform that takes ODScore’s “best-in-class” methods and tools – specifically around mentoring, hiring and goal attainment – and makes them available 24/7.
“We realized it’s very difficult for organizations to get the services we offer in the marketplace,” Pettit explains. “With GlobalOD, individuals and organizations can find the expertise they need when they need it.”
Filling that gap required “productizing” ODScore programs, tools and services for inclusion in an online forum that supports both individual and organizational development. It meant coming up with a unique business model, pricing structure and licensing arrangements. And it meant teaming up with other leading consultancies that have complementary expertise to provide the end clients with a comprehensive range of leading OD solutions.
For help scaling the concept, Pettit and Salas applied to Innovation Guelph’s Fast Lane program and were paired with mentor Mark Goldberg, a serial entrepreneur who has extensive consulting experience as founder of GlobalTox, which he sold to MTE Consultants Inc. in 2009.
“Time is a perishable commodity,” Goldberg says. “As a consultant, you are selling your time and there are only so many hours in a day. You can hire other people, but often the client wants you. So how do you go from that model to a model that makes your services available 24 hours a day without you being there? How can you make money while you sleep?”
Productizing service offerings is “a way to get scale,” Pettit explains. “We’re looking for ways to put tools and utilities into clients’ hands where they can do a lot of the stuff themselves that we used to do personally. It creates the ability for people to interact with some of our methods and our tools independent from us.”
Automating consulting programs and services for self-serve delivery on a technology platform is “no mean feat,” she says.
“It was a huge learning curve. There is a real process to productizing and it’s not quite what people think: it’s not just writing a really good explanation for how to do something. It’s quite a journey because we’re all so used to working with our content, and you actually have to go through a process of what I would call client-centered design.
“First of all you need to decide that, of all the great things you do, what are the things that people can do on their own? You don’t expect that people aren’t going to know what to do next because it’s so obvious to you. The question is: ‘If I left you on your own and didn’t help you at all, would you be able to do this?’”
“The challenge,” Pettit adds, is to determine “what is really scalable, repeatable process that anybody could learn to do.”
GlobalOD currently offers ODScore’s highly successful mentoring program (“like eHarmony for business”), hiring and goal attainment programs for enterprise-level organizations, as well as integrated measurement and reporting functions. It also includes offerings from other partners – one in Ireland and one in the U.S. – who add complementary expertise in innovation and sales and sales management.
All GlobalOD partners can sell all the content on the system, opening up new markets and providing revenue to all the parties. It also means that client companies can deal with one network for solutions to a wide range of issues.
The pricing strategy splits revenue between the content sellers who take 40 per cent of a deal, the content providers who also get 40 per cent, while the remaining 20 per cent goes to GlobalOD.
“Part of Mark’s genius in helping us was asking, ‘how do you make it so everyone wins ?’” Pettit recalls.
“The idea is that we all become the sales force,” Salas adds. “We all know what we are good at, we all have our own specialties, but we can work with the rest of the partners.”
At the same time, there is still a role for personalized, hands-on consultation in association with the GlobalOD platform.
“Instead of trying to automate everything, we know there are some parts that will be better executed by the individual consultants,” Salas says. “But instead of sharing their content with five to 10 people at a time because that’s all their capacity, they can put it into this forum and actually share it with hundreds of thousands of people.
One challenge for content-contributing partners, Salas points out, is to come to terms with “letting go” of their own material to a degree while realizing the net benefits of being “more agile as far as penetrating new markets, and getting new products without a huge investment. It allows you to do things you didn’t consider possible because your expertise was not in that area.”
Individuals can create a free GlobalOD account to access some of the basic functions, self-assessment questionnaires and e-learning modules, as well as to establish a Learner Portfolio that may include their assessment results, their resume, their learning goals and connect to their LinkedIn profile. Companies access specialized programs and service offerings like mentoring matching and e-learning modules by subscription, based on their unique needs. The platform integrates functions such as document repositories for a seamless customer experience, and is set up so one individual at a company, with minimal training, can manage the experience for their colleagues.
The Fast Lane project also drew on the expertise of Innovation Guelph industry specialist Sandra Herriot, who specializes in developing strategic global business partnerships, and who provided leads for potential global network partners as well as for new clients in Mexico and India.
Ultimately, Pettit credits the Guelph factor, which she defines as a spirit of cooperation, with helping to give GlobalOD its wings.
“Silicon Valley has a five-minute factor as in ‘how can I help you in 5 minutes?’ In Guelph, it’s at least half an hour,” she laughs. “There’s a generosity about it.”
“I really see the strength in the economy is around taking millions of small, healthy enterprises that support each other like an enterprise ecosystem. I can do more if I can find my tribe and we can co-exist, co-sell and share resources. If we can do that, I’m much better off. Everybody’s trying to do the same thing, trying to make money in their sleep. If we can streamline it, it helps all of us.”
About Fast Lane
Fast Lane is a business acceleration program for small- and medium-sized enterprises (under 500 employees) that are facing technical, efficiency or growth challenges. Part of Innovation Guelph’s Speedway program, it is designed for companies earning revenues of $1 million or more, and provides up to $5,000 in services to help these businesses scale-up their operations. #IGFastLane
Since launching in October 2014, Innovation Guelph has worked with 32 companies based in Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area from a variety of sectors including: Advanced Manufacturing, Agri-Technology, Food & Beverage, Cleantech, Life Sciences as well as Digital Media and Technology.
Interested in entering the Fast Lane? Learn more about the program here or contact Innovation Guelph for more information at 519.265.4495 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you and helping your company grow to its full potential.
— Story and photo by Stacey Curry Gunn. Stacey is a Guelph-based PR and marketing communications professional who helps businesses grow by sharing their stories. Follow her on Twitter @StaceyCurryGunn.