Culture at Smartsalary: a sneak peak

Several years ago I had the pleasure of listening to the Dean of Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria, lead a discussion on leadership. The discussion focussed on a paper that he co-authored in 2003 titled What Really Works. This paper was the result of a 10-year study that sought to uncover the business practices of companies he termed as winners – that is, companies that consistently outperformed their peers. According to the study, there are 4 primary practices that all winners employed. At the top of that list was to devise and maintain a clearly stated, focussed strategy. The focus here was not just on having a concise, coherent strategy, but also one that every member of the organisation understands and appreciates . . . after all, what hope does a company have of executing a strategy that isn’t absolutely clear to everyone who works there!


With that in mind, we created our Strategy Triangle to simply articulate the few concepts that we thought were central to the Smartsalary Way of doing things. The key principles include:

(a) an Engaged Workforce (as measured by the likes of AonHewitt), and

(b) Lean Systems and Processes (as outlined in The Toyota Way), would help to drive

(c) Customer Loyalty (which we have chosen to measure using Net Promoter Score).

And just this year, we are enhancing our triangle with 2 further practices:

(d) Agile development (which is actually a whole-of-business initiative), and

(e) Innovation (we’ve adopted a methodology outlined in Clay Christensen’s The Innovator’s DNA).

Taken together we have the new 2012 Smartsalary Strategy Triangle. As you can see, it all starts with Staff Engagement at the base of the triangle, and builds with practices like Lean, Agile development and Innovation to help drive our end goal at the tip of the triangle, which is Customer Loyalty. This should help us achieve our company vision, which is: To be widely recognised as the easiest salary packaging and fleet management company to deal with.

Each of our practices have a capability maturity framework attached to it, which helps us keep track of how we are progressing against our important goals at a granular level. And then we have company-wide KPIs whereby everyone across the organisation has a component of their remuneration determined by how well the company performs against these KPIs.

We’re not there yet, far from it. We know how far we’ve come, but we also know how much farther it’s possible to go in our journey.

We are in the process of rolling out this triangle throughout the company. Hopefully with this clarity of purpose, we can endeavour to be as good to you, our valued customers, as you have been to us!

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Deven Billimoria
Chief Executive Officer

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February 2012
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