The table in the kitchen at New Black is packed. Someone eats fries with chopsticks, his
neighbor eats sushi and someone else a cheese sandwich. In the office on the 29th floor of the WTC Almere you see large screens with dashboards on the walls and enormous screens on every desk.
New Black is an ambitious company that supports major brands and international retail organizations with their modern unified commerce platform (EVA); a central real-time platform that enables the best possible customer experience at all customer contact points.
That the company is future-oriented is also visible in the mission of New Black to ‘help companies to become adaptive to change’. The company also has a kind of submission; ‘just doing nice things’; nice work, nice customers and just doing fun things with each other.
Steven Bakker is one of the founders of the company. He shares “If we state that we help companies to become adaptive to change, we must be adaptive ourselves. So we actively practice that and this is reflected in everything we do. This means surfing the waves of new technology. Moore’s law teaches us that every 18 months the capacity of technology doubles while halving the costs. The essence of our work is to unlock this incredible power in a manageable way for our customers.
Holacracy® offers us what we offer our customers in the field of technology in the development and growth of our own organization and culture. ”
Steven Bakker from New Black
Exponential growth without increasing resources
“I can already see promising developments and I feel that there is a lot more to unlock. This is also in line with our ambition to grow exponentially without increasing the number of employees in the same pace.
We strive for exponential growth ourselves and we also want that for our customers. But we do not want to grow in all resources. Our people are most important to us, every person has their own unique knowledge and expertise. Every year we want to at least double our turnover, whereby we only grow by about 20% in terms of the number of people. As a result people within our organization can do a lot more than people in a classic hierarchical context. With Holacracy we want to create a system that removes all bottlenecks so that everyone can maximize their potential and talents.
For the time being, Moore’s law is still on track, we have double results approximately every two years with half of the costs. Yet you see that most companies are still full of all sorts of applications and techniques that are sometimes 20 years old at the core and then stack them on top of each other. At New Black we have the luxury that we can only be working with new technology and the possibilities that this offers, we are delighted to be able to serve more and more internationally operating brands and retailers there.”
“Als wij ondernemingen helpen om adaptive to change te worden, moeten we dat natuurlijk zelf ook zijn.”
– Steven Bakker
The company liberated from bottlenecks by organizing differently
Diederick Janse is an Holacracy expert and supported New Black with the first steps of their Holacracy adoption. He explains how a framework liberates the organization from obstacles.
“With Holacracy, New Black has enthusiastically embraced thinking in roles. There are a few differences between roles and functions. First, roles are defined by the people who do the work, along with their direct colleagues, so they are much more accurate than functions, that are devised far from everyday work.
Second, roles describe much smaller ‘chunks of work’, which results in people fulfilling three to six roles, instead of that one theoretical function. On top of that, roles are dynamic, whilst functions are static.
The responsibilities and powers of roles are constantly updated based on reality and advancing insight. With this they provide extreme clarity about who is involved. This extreme clarity enables organizations like New Black to continuously improve, remove bottlenecks and make maximum use of talent and energy. Or, as they say at New Black: Cut the crap! ”
“Extreme helderheid stelt organisaties als New Black in staat om continu te verbeteren, bottlenecks weg te nemen en maximaal gebruik te maken van talent en energie.”
– Diederick Janse
The need for adaptive to change for customers
New Black often works for large – often international – retailers and brands. It is precisely these organizations that are often not agile. Steven has seen a huge shift in the past few years and pressure on those organizations because they face so many changes. “Most companies now realize that if they do not start a digital transformation, they will be stuck in a relatively short period of time. They will lose their advantage on competitors, new entrants or providers of alternative products and/ or services. Currently we see the fashion market becoming the hotspot of the digital transformation. This creates a lot of pressure both on the brands and on the retailers. And that leads to gigantic changes.
What customers see from our adaptability differs. There are plenty of examples
of incredible experiences. Like problem issues, which normally have an average of 9 months of lead time. We can realize this in 9 days. In addition, everything we have in technology is real time. That gives the opportunity to create interesting dashboards with amazing insights. We can often tell our customers more about themselves and their customers than they can themselves. ”
Compatible with the customer’s method
The business of New Black’s customers is changing, but the organizations themselves often have been working in the same way for years and often go from one reorganization to another. This is also visible during the projects with large enterprises. “The big enterprises – the corporates – have long-formed grinding patterns that form enormous forces to maintain the status, which therefore stands out as much resistance from within against innovations. Moreover, they often work with multiple IT partners. They are used to how they have always done it. It is often the complete opposite of our holistic approach and our slogan ‘Cut the Crap’. It therefore requires considerable adaptability from us to successfully complete these types of projects.
We also choose fun customers, so we choose the enterprises that have innovation high on the agenda from the top. What we notice is that the summit indeed has active ideas about innovation, but that two layers below it has not yet been embraced. There work is done in an ‘old’ way. So on the one hand we are very sure how we think it should be done right, on the other hand we have to make continuous adjustments to be compatible with the different ranks of our customers and the way certain departments or managers work.”
Leadership from the inside
“We preach that we help companies to become adaptive to change, so we feel the need to be that too. Holacracy helps us with this, first with the creation and distribution of roles, roles work much better for us than functions, because roles are smaller and more specific than classical functions and job profiles. This makes it much easier to let people do what they like and what they have or think they have talents. In fact, it helps to break down traditional silos such as purchasing, sales, marketing and administration into smaller roles and to create collections of roles that at that moment in time fit the capacities and energy of the people. This leads to much more job satisfaction and a much higher productivity.
Also working on the basis of the tensions, within Holacracy fits us very well, this encourages people to actively report where they are irritated or which potential they still see too much unused. In our point of view, this directly contributes to building and maintaining the culture we want, in which transparency, teamwork and trust are of paramount importance.”