An employee at Triad Retail Media had an idea about a new social networking tool for the company to consider. He didn’t need to fight through five layers of management to get the attention of CEO Greg Murtagh. He just e-mailed Murtagh directly. Before the end of that day, Murtagh had already read the proposal, researched the new tool online, agreed that it was a good idea and assigned someone to begin work on the project.
Murtagh founded Triad in 2004 but has continued to grow his company, which sells advertising to online retailers, by 282 percent in the past three years.
Greg Murtagh spoke with Smart Business about how fast-growth companies can keep pace with industry changes by facilitating a culture of innovation and open communication.
Encourage entrepreneurial thinking. People shoot me e-mails from five levels below me, and I think it’s great. That’s change around here. If you unencumber people and you take away the handcuffs and you take away the barriers and the walls … and say, ‘Hey, if you have a good idea let’s hear about it,’ — if you have that kind of open environment, things tend to happen a lot faster. If you are a person who just likes to sit in your office and close the door and say, ‘Hey, I hope it keeps going,’ and be visionary but not be close to what’s going on, you are in trouble. Around here, people like coming to work, because it’s a dynamic place to work. It’s an open place to work. Anybody can knock on anybody’s door at any time.
Give management enough rope. You have to let other people take the rope and trust that the people you’ve hired are going to do what you need them to do. A lot of times, people don’t do that. They try to do too much. They make every single decision, and as a result, the company slows down to a snail’s pace, because everything has to go through the person who is clogging the pipes. Even though you hire a great staff that you like and trust and you think are making the right decisions, and you are delegating, you have to let go a little bit. I’m not an IT person. I’m a sales and marketing person, but I live in an Internet world. There are lots of technical things that I am completely ignorant about. I have to hire people, especially in the IT area, who are telling me to make investments that cost millions of dollars and are giving me recommendations as to why we need that. I have to trust people and that they are telling me the right thing.
Reward innovation. We have a whole series of monetary awards called the Star Awards, where we give money to people every year to come up with ideas in certain areas in all different categories, such as $10,000 to the team that brings the best new idea to market during the year or $10,000 to the team that came up with most creative idea to save the company or grow revenue during the year. We pay people and reward people for being innovative. If you have clear communication and you have compensation that’s aligned with what you want to occur, then people will line up against your vision and make it happen.
Place bets on money makers. A lot of people see shiny new things and basically pick up the phone and tell their organizations, ‘We have to do that! We have to do that!’ And as a result, they waste a lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of money on things that they shouldn’t have spent time on. In the Internet space, there are lots of shiny objects. You have to step back and look at that stuff with a very cold eye, and ask yourself, ‘Is it really going to be a transformational thing?’ There’s social. There’s mobile. There’s Facebook. There’s Twitter. There’s video. There are 18 different things that we should be thinking about, planning for and doing. You have to pick and choose your shots. I never put a dollar into anything that I don’t expect to make money. If things don’t work out, usually within six months, it’s not going to work out. If something is a success, it usually takes off.
How to reach: Triad Retail Media, (813) 286-6586 or www.triadretail.com