What Sparta and Lingaro Have In Common

Grzegorz Zapert 02.10.2017

 

Third Thursday Beer and Working From Home: definitely worth fighting for!

300 is a prominent number in the legend of Sparta… And Lingaro.

We recently passed this milestone in the number of Lingarians in our company. I’m taking this opportunity to share my personal Lingaro story and what in my opinion are the factors that let us grow from 0 in 2008 to 40 in 2010 (when I joined) to 300 in 2017. These, I believe, are the same factors that will make us overflow 10 bits (so more than 1023 Lingarians) until 2020.

Where do I come from?

“Where do you come from?” is a great conversation starter as it lets the other person answer in a myriad of ways with an emphasis on birthplace, country, job, company, cultural circle, way of thinking.

As for me – let me go in a breeze through my 15 years of career. Before I joined Lingaro in 2010 I was a university lecturer (on Politechnika Szczecińska and Uniwersytet Szczeciński), a web developer (PHP and custom CMS development), a database developer (a leading Polish mobile sales force automation company, a would be Salesforce.com competitor), a mobile apps developer (Pocket PC anyone?), and a data warehouse developer and tech lead in Acxiom for Santander Bank and General Motors (coincidentally in the interesting period of 2008-2009 when it was not obvious if GM will survive). Then in 2010 it all changed when I signed the contract with Lingaro. What really caught me about Lingaro (the zero moment of truth) was that Sebastian Stygar (one of the cofounders and our current co-CEO) drove with his two little kids all the way to where it was convenient for me and I signed the contract in his car. This shows two things. How Lingaro’s managers care for their people and how efficiently we operate. Getting things done is the name of the game.

That was when the gears shifted for me. My first assignment was the Nokia account in Finland working as a Teradata Data Warehouse and Informatica consultant on the sales planning data warehouse. In a typical Lingaro fashion I was thrown into deep water to sink or swim with senior Nokia managers, our Bearing Point consulting company partners and Nokia’s vendor partners from Teradata, CGI, and others.

Next was the P&G Market Measurements account where together with the Lingaro legends (Grzegorz Tkaczyk, Przemek Korczak, Wojtek Smolarek, Marcin Augustyński, Radek Wejda, Piotr Rosiński and others) we’ve built the core solution for P&G to analyze the market shares and trends of P&G’s and their competitors’ products globally.

My following roles were Project Manager on several projects in the Market Measurements space and in other business areas, Business Domain Leader for Market Measurements Business Domain and Cheetah Program Manager (organizing delivery for half of our projects for P&G). These roles helped me to gain perspective on our deliveries from different angles and gain experience and knowledge about P&G and about our internal ways and best practices.

In the next sections I’d like to highlight the Lingaro traits that helped us achieve the success. They are not a theoretical exercise. They are based on my observations of what really works and what makes us unique.

What makes us unique at Lingaro?

The 300 number is not the only thing that we have in common with the legendary 300 Spartans. Like Spartans we are battle-hardened. We come from top IT companies and top universities. We have a lot of victories under our belts. We deliver glamorous applications and elegant solutions. We provide our services with grace, thoughtfulness, honesty, and humility. We have deep knowledge and do great things, yet we take time to really listen to our customers and to deliver what they need and want, not what we want or what we think they should want.

I believe in simplicity. So below I outline in really simple terms what are the characteristics that will let us win every new fight, every new customer, every interesting project we lay our eyes upon.

Customer Focus

  • Treat your customer as you would your grandmother. What would you sell her? How would you provide your service? How would you talk to her?
  • Don’t let short-term wins cloud your long-term goals. Think about the future projects and engagements. How to establish lasting relationship? How to get your client promoted?
  • Be a trusted advisor, not a used cars salesman. Find out what the customer really needs, not what you want to sell her.
  • The customer is always right. I understand this saying as understanding that what matters is what the customer perceives. It’s not always the same as so called objective facts. If he feels bad about something, we should feel bad about it too and act on it. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. We are here to help our customers and to make them feel good about our services.

You as a person

  • Be honest. It always pays long-term. If other people know they can count on you, they will.
  • Be proactive. An all-time favourite corporate buzzword. Yet so true. Act as a leader, not as a follower.
  • Think end-to-end. We’re not doing “just development”, “just testing”, “just migrations”. We’re providing full service to our clients. If they’re not happy with the end result, all our efforts were pointless.
  • Plan before doing. It saves time in the long run.
  • Focus on what’s important. If something is important to someone else but not to you ask “why” a lot. Chances are you’ll understand why it is important or the other person understands why it’s really not.

You as a badass IT consultant

  • We are in IT business. It’s not a simple business. We need to be smart, creative and up to date on what are the best solutions available.
  • So know your stuff. Whatever your role or your specialization is, become outstanding at it. Whether it is DW/BI/Web development, business analysis, project management, DevOps, platforms management or some other arcane knowledge – always dig deeper, run faster, become better at what you’re doing.
  • Remember that true expertise comes with experience. With thousands of hours spent on projects and solving hard issues.

You and Your Team

  • Build on each other’s strengths. That’s what teams are for. You’re good by yourself, you’re amazing together. Work together, not besides each other. Listen to each other. Give feedback. Learn from each other.Help others when asked for help or when you can see opportunity yourself. Being open and helpful empowers others to do the same. Remember that the best endorsement for your future is having good feedback from your clients, peers, and managers.
  • Be on the bright side of life. Worry less, smile more. If the problems start mounting up and become unbearable – close your eyes, take a deep breath and smile wider. It’s never as bad as it seems. And it’s easier to fix things when you’re in a positive state of mind.
  • If there’s something to complain about – don’t complain. Instead do something about it. If you cannot do anything about then how does it help worrying about? Google “circle of confluence and circle of concern” (or start with my article on the 7 Habits by Stephen Covey).

Summary

This is not a complete account of how should we act. This is not an account of what will work in the future. This is the account of my observations of what worked so far and allowed Lingaro to grow. It’s up to us all to come up with how we can grow together for the next years. I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’ll be a thrill!

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About the author

Grzegorz Zapert

Greg is a Section Director at Lingaro. He has over 15 years of experience in delivering Business Intelligence solutions for leading global companies. In his current role he's adding value to Lingaro's customers by merging the world of business suits with the world of nerdy t-shirts.