“Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.” - Bruce Lee
You wouldn’t expect a martial arts expert’s musings to apply to business strategy so perfectly, and yet here we are. When Umbrage was formed, our team was a group of experienced industry professionals who had already absorbed what was useful to us and rejected what was useless – office politics, quantity over quality and gatekeeping from clients. All that was left was to add what was essentially “us” and essentially Umbrage.
At that point, we were a very small team. Our culture wasn’t top-down or down-up but a horizontal collaborative effort. There was no hiding behind company policy or a workforce so huge that individual employees had no effective say in the culture. Every individual’s impact was crucial literally and metaphorically. Amongst the values we landed on as essentially Umbrage was this concept of education as a service.
Amongst the values we landed on as essentially Umbrage was this concept of education as a service.
In many ways, education is our biggest competitor. Not just ours though – any service provider in our industry is competing against the skills and time of their clients. How are we truly adding value that can’t be done by others or internally? Are the services we provide adding enough value by giving that time back to our clients? Instead of working against this by holding clients’ product hostage or dancing around deadlines, we decided to incorporate it as part of our business model. You keep the IP and hopefully, the product team you’ve built alongside us to support a product-first mindset.
Typically, hiring development studios or consultancies comes with a sort of understanding that the work they do is shrouded in mystery. To be revered but never fully understood. But we’re actively dismantling that assumption. Embedded in our understanding of education as a core value is creating a crafts-based experience for our team and our clients. Leading with a spirit of learning and sharing our knowledge means appreciating the balance between all of our crafts – design, engineering, sales and product. That is to say you cannot effectively communicate with clients or be a real, transformative presence in their team without understanding the role every individual and each craft as a whole plays in this dynamic.
Leading with a spirit of learning and sharing our knowledge means appreciating the balance between all of our crafts...
We’re able to support these goals through sustainable scaling, like our apprentice program. If you want to attract top talent, you have to invest in education and consider the experience you’re giving your employees, in addition to your clients and their customers. If we don’t instill a sense of learning amongst our team, I don’t think you can expect that culture to be successfully propagated in their team. Some of the other intangible benefits of our education as a service outlook include:
- Key hire support
- Identifying and facilitating new partnerships
- Help craft new engagement strategies based off of our combined experience
- Mentoring transitioning product teams
The successful integration of this culture – product-first, education – is one of those key processes we hope to achieve after every client engagement. After we pass off your designs or fully-fledged product, we want to see it succeed beyond our time together.
Check out our latest case study blog.