Gray Matter Systems develops its processes, people for systematic growth

Putting that process in place, moving to a new headquarters, breaking the frames it had before and creating a stronger leadership team has changed the company, Gillespie says.

The 90-day execution cycles also help Gray Matter Systems fail faster when a new initiative isn’t working.

Gillespie says last year, even with the disciplined selection process, at the end of a 90-day execution cycle, they hadn’t made progress on one of the top focuses.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s just stop doing that,’” he says. “Having a stop-doing list is almost as important or more important, arguably, as a start-doing list.”

Again, it takes discipline to admit an idea isn’t working, because Gillespie says you optimistically keep thinking: “Just a few more cycles and we’ll get this nailed.”

Developing leaders

Gray Matter Systems has identified about 10 people who help determine the strategic and execution goals. Gillespie says everybody’s vote provides direction for the company.

Some people have stepped up, while others have self-selected out because the accountability level is higher.

The group meets every morning for 10 to 30 minutes to discuss what happened from yesterday to today, he says.

“When the outside facilitator suggested that to me, I told him he was crazy,” Gillespie says. “There’s no way we’re talking every day. It’s ridiculous. We’re too busy to talk every day.”

Now, it’s part of the DNA. When a team member is with a customer or out sick and misses the daily meeting, he says it feels unnatural.

By developing stronger people to run new initiatives, Gillespie says, delegation is easier. This is something he’s also personally worked on, and as a result, he has gotten better at getting out of the way.

“I’m spending more of my cycles working on the business, instead of working in the business, which is something you read about all the time, but it is extremely hard to do,” he says.

Even though he’s a good sales guy and a reasonably good engineer, Gillespie has to remind himself those aren’t areas he needs to work in. His job is to work on the business and help it grow.

“It’s the ‘on’ versus ‘in’ percentage,” he says.

Today, not only is he better at delegating, Gillespie also has gotten better at growing the team around him — because an environment where the team holds each other accountable can set your business up for success.