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Inside Act-On: Defining Our Convictions for Growth and Success

Inside Act-On: Defining Our Convictions for Growth and Success

Inside Act-On: Defining Our Convictions for Growth and Success

Since our inception in 2008, Act-On has been on a path of extreme growth, and has scaled to be a global company with seven offices and over 350 employees. In the process, we had developed many micro-cultures across our locations. That’s common in many global companies, but with our rapid growth we didn’t have the time to stop and reflect on the intentional culture we wanted to create. While we had firmly outlined our customer values, we hadn’t explicitly defined our own internal values and culture. In order to continue on this path of growth and success, we knew we must define who we are, who we want to be, and what we believe in as a company.

Time for ACTION!

When our CEO Andy MacMillan started in 2015, he brought with him a methodology to define and prioritize our annual company strategy and execution plan that we now call our ACTION Plan. It includes defining the following areas each year:

A = Aspiration (our vision for the year)

C = Convictions (what matters to us)

T = Themes (the core priorities we are focused on)

I = Involving (who’s involved in making it happen?)

O = Obstacles (what could get in our way of success?)

N = Numbers (what metrics matter?)

Andy developed Act-On’s first ACTION Plan in 2016 which cascaded down to the management level, and then further down, asking each employee to develop an individual plan that aligns with the company’s plan. What we found was that Andy and most employees took the time to define their own individual Aspirations and Convictions for the year rather than simply subscribing to a company wide vision.

A United Front: Getting Alignment

When I, Susy Dunn – Chief People Officer, joined the company, I focused on getting to know our business and culture. It soon became clear to me that each office had its own unique culture and many interpreted, or operated, with their own set of values. With the amount of change the company had experienced in the past 18 months, we were going through an identity crisis and employees craved a cohesive culture. We wanted to know what the company stood for, and if our understanding of our culture had changed. Alongside the People Team, I led us through a grassroots effort to define Act-On’s Convictions so we could have an aligned vision of what’s important, and what we stand for.

Starting in November 2016 with a broad group of leaders and executives we began brainstorming what each individual believed our convictions are or should be. Using this as a starting point, we then had a company-wide brainstorm session where every employee in the company was able to add their ideas to this growing list. We used Post-It notes in each office and gathered ideas throughout the months of December and January. Here are some of the walls from our offices:

Once we gathered the ideas, some clear themes surfaced and it was fascinating to see how aligned we already actually were. The exercise also provided the opportunity for important conversations to emerge about what matters to us and why.

Andy and I took the themes and created a first draft of our convictions which we shared at our 2017 annual Company Kick Off. All employees were then given the opportunity to review and make suggestions before we finalized them. In the end, we were able to create a list of core convictions that define what matters most to us. These have become the foundation for how we work together, serve our customers, and focus our priorities. They ultimately influence our culture. It’s about Acting Together, Acting with Integrity, and Acting to Win.

The Results:

Below are our convictions, as defined by the leadership and employees that make up the 2016/2017 Act-On crew:

Act Together

  • Our people matter, are empowered to make a difference, and are passionate to make Act-On a powerful and positive experience in our careers.
  • We are inclusive and supportive of each other. We thrive on our diversity and uniqueness.
  • We win and lose as a team. We work cross-functionally and across geographies collaboratively to solve problems and achieve our goals.
  • We assume positive intent, look for the best in each other, and have a culture of feedback and coaching. 

Act with Integrity

  • We act with integrity, honesty, transparency, and accountability in all things we do.
  • We’re proud of how we conduct ourselves and our business.
  • We respect alternative views and seek common ground over divisiveness.
  • We are beholden not just to our shareholders, but to all our stakeholders – employees, customers, and communities. 

Act to Win

  • Our actions are a model for leading by example and winning in the right ways.
  • We have the people, product, partners, and processes to make our customers successful.
  • We are establishing a business model that facilitates long-term success and we will continue to make hard choices necessary to maintain that success.
  • We execute at the highest levels and encourage calculated risks that we can learn from and continue to improve. Quality and excellence are at our core.
  • We have market leading product vision and innovation.

These convictions are now reflected on every employee’s 2017 ACTION plan. We’re incredibly proud of who we are and are passionate about making Act-On the best experience of our careers. Having aligned around a defined set of convictions to guide us as we continue growing and scaling will help us make sure we maintain a cohesive culture –even though each office will still have its own unique vibe. Here’s how excited our Actonians are about 2017 and what’s in store for us:

We’re all excited to keep moving #ForwardTogether. #InsideActOn.


About

Susy is the Chief People Officer of Act-On, and is responsible for the strategy and execution of employee programs that drive growth and inspire our culture and community. She brings to Act-On 20 years of experience in various business and human resources leadership roles, as well as a passion for creating empowered employee experiences where both the people and business thrive. Most recently, Susy was VP of People at Jama Software and established HR as a strategic partner to the business, driving growth and leading through change. Prior to that she was Sr. Director, Employee Success at Jive Software where she led the global talent, learning & development, and business partnership teams. Susy is also the Chair of the HR Executive Committee with the Technology Association of Oregon, a board member with Innovate Oregon, and a founding member of the successful PCEP Intern Program with Portland State University.


  • Great article, Susy. Thanks for sharing your insights with us. It’s true that acting with integrity drives success, both individually and as a whole. Being open to one another and respecting each other outputs and suggestions increase the team’s bond and trust.