Chalmers St – Consulting

Retrospective is Powerful!

They say that hindsight is 20/20. Retrospective is powerful! This is true in part because in retrospect we can take our time and think carefully without emotion. When we are in the moment we often act with less care. I have a practice every week where I reflect on the activities of the week, the positives, the negatives, and what I have learned. I have been doing this for more than six years now. In this month’s newsletter I am going to ask you to join me in a retrospection on the year. 


In 2022, Chalmers St. became a team. Mir Ateeb Ali and I had been running the business consistently through the pandemic. Thank you, Mir. In 2022,  Gerardo Chaquinga joined us to support a new client and Greg Snyder joined us to support an existing client’s significant facility move. Thank you, Gerardo and Greg Additionally, we’ve had great partners helping us land new clients and service them. Thank you Mike Shannon and Alpine Supply Chain Solutions. I am thrilled to say all of this continued in 2023. Even better, we added some new faces. Verkia Ndezgha, a friend from a previous work life joined us to support a new client and Vikas Routhu joined us to support Gerardo in his client work. I went into this business to build a fantastic team that can help companies execute on continuous improvement initiatives. I am very proud to say that both the team and the list of clients is growing! 


In 2023, we realized that it was time to start taking marketing seriously. Over the years most of our focus has been on LinkedIn and staying in touch with friends and colleagues that might need our help. Thank you to all of those friends and colleagues and thank you toJean-Michelle Tourie for supporting our LinkedIn efforts. This has certainly worked well and we added new marketing activities to increase our growth. We revamped our website.Thank you to Armghan Rehman and his team at Arkotech. We started building new messaging for the business and new content to support Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Thank you Daisy McCarthy and the Marketing Blender. We launched a facebook site along with ad campaigns and tons more videos. Thank you Chris Weiher and Cleaver Creative. Chris has really increased his impact for us which has been absolutely crucial to our ability to strategize and go after new marketing activities. Chris helped us launch CI Mastermind Live which is already becoming a popular way for people to solve challenging problems resolved in real time as well as get a feel for the CI Mastermind Program.


In 2023, we grew our products. Our most significant offering continues to be our Fractional Lean Office, we also call this the CI Platform. This name confusion is something we will need to address as we launched a new software platform to support our other major offering, CI Mastermind. Thank you to Gerardo Chaquiga and the Cognati team. This was something we thought we might do 3 or 4 years down the road as the CI Mastermind program gained momentum. Cognati’s approach to tool building allowed us to accomplish it this year. It has increased the impact of CI Mastermind. In one of our training sessions this year two thirds of the class highlighted the CI Mastermind Platform Tool as an important part of the class and told us that it helped them understand the techniques faster. That made my day as I do not want to just grow our clients; I want to grow our effectiveness. This is proof that we are making the right decisions and the right investments in our products. Another investment that came through this year is that CI Mastermind is now a registered trademark with the US Patent office. Our approach is unique so we knew we needed to protect this brand. We ended 2022 with 9 CI Mastermind members. We will end 2023 with 20 members. We plan to double the program every year for the foreseeable future. Thank you to Patrick Mitsuuchi-Stork for your critical and ongoing role in building this program. 


On a not so positive note, in 2023 we lost one of our longest supported clients. We see our services as an extension of our client’s team. We are not just quick hit project consulting, but real partners with our clients on their journey toward performance excellence. This is what we mean by Fractional Lean Office. While we expect that some clients will outgrow us we tend to think we can provide value for many years. For this client their strategy changed and their leadership changed. Everything ended on good terms and we expect to hear from them again in the future. 


We welcomed five new clients this year. As I reflect on our client growth, I mean what I have always said, we will not grow any faster than our ability to find great talent to support our clients. To date this has not been a limitation, in 2024 we will be paying close attention to just how stretched the Chalmers St. team becomes. We will place greater focus on recruiting new people to our team. People with similar skills and most importantly who share our values and believe and conform to our approach. 


Lastly, for us small business owners bookkeeping and project analysis is an unsung hero. QuickBooks has been a critical tool over the years to help us keep the numbers top of mind and allow us to make good decisions. Thank you Sonja Brisard and team, as her company makes clear Business Accounting Matters. Prior to last year most of our projects were managed on spreadsheets. This became untenable and we (I really) made some mistakes that cost Chalmers St. real money. At the end of 2022 we invested in a new process developed by Worx, and a tool called Trackvia. Now at the end of 2023 we have a low code database that allows us to track projects, project level profitability, manage our team, bill our clients, manage our expenses, and provide the kind of data and analysis that allows us to refine our approaches and pricing. Thank you Matt Cox and Dennis Jackson. It was such a great success that Worx is helping us build a solution for one of our clients also in Trackvia. 


As I sum up all of these reflections, the year was very successful. Yes, we have quite a bit more stress with all the work we are doing. But most importantly our clients, our teams, and our partners enjoy working with us and are looking forward to doing more work with us. Our work to refine and clarify our products has been great. Our work to streamline internal processes has freed up time. We need to do more of this for sure. We have to think about the longevity of our clients. As they change, how do we change with them? How do we help them change? How do we stay relevant? We will need to manage our growth and not take on more than we can handle or lose this formula that is working so well. The challenges will continue; can we pull together another year with this kind of success?


I will save my thoughts on looking forward for the next newsletter. My parting advice is for you to do your own retrospective on 2023. What changes occurred? Do you view them as positive? Do you view them as negative? What changes do you need to prepare for in 2024? It can be hard to think clearly about these things. It can be hard to make time to reflect. Trust me, that it is valuable and I suggest that you make retrospection a yearly, monthly, and weekly practice. Of Course don’t forget to make time to enjoy the season as well!