Our latest cohort of growth-stage companies recently graduated from our Apprenticeship program, a nine-month experience during which they improved their leadership skills, emotional intelligence, decision-making, and team alignment. They did that by attending a variety of individual and team sessions over nine months:
- Leadership Forums
- Leadership & Functional Classes
- Mentor Meetings, and
- Tutoring Roundtables.
This cohort brings our alumni base to 25 companies over five years, during which time we have held over 750 of those sessions.
Imagine what we've learned in those sessions as a result of the following:
- There is always at least one member from our team in each session, often up to three, allowing us to directly experience the learning ourselves by listening to the conversations, taking personal notes, and contributing as necessary.
- Because one of our team members takes transcript-like notes in every session except Forums, we can identify patterns, trends, and themes that these growth-stage companies experience both individually and collectively.
- In those notes, we have the hard questions, shared experiences, and lessons learned from the dozens of mentors and instructors (all seasoned entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executives) who address the companies' challenges and issues.
We refer to this internally as our "program data": the content we generate in real-time from the questions, conversations, lessons, outcomes, and experiences that are covered in real-time through the Apprenticeship program. None of it is influenced by memory, bias, or preference; it's all "truth."
In addition, we compile an assortment of quantitative and qualitative "company data". Once they graduate, we maintain close relationships with JuntoAlumni so we can learn what they are or aren't implementing, how well they're performing as leaders and companies, and what their struggles and achievements are. Most are members of our alumni organization, the Leather Apron Club, so we see them at ongoing sessions and special events. And for those who aren't, we check in periodically to learn what's new with their companies and how well they're growing. Finally, at the end of each year, we ask them for their annual revenue, enabling us to measure the rate at which the companies are growing.
As of today, 23 of the 25 companies that completed our Apprenticeship program are still operating (one was acquired, one failed). The average revenue of those 23 companies is $3.6 million based on their 2017 year-end forecast, and the average growth rate is 70% per year since the time they enrolled in our Apprenticeship program. Qualitatively, they are experiencing lower turnover, making better decisions, becoming more effective leaders, building stronger cultures, and achieving better financial results. And at a personal level, many of them report feeling more confident, having greater clarity, and communicating more frequently and effectively.
So now, imagine when we bridge our program data with the company data. Imagine the dots we can connect about why companies are growing at the pace they are or are not. Imagine what we can discover about the relationships that exist among learning, implementation, and results. And imagine what we can deduce about these companies and their leaders.
These conclusions are what we're beginning to refer to as "virtues": qualities, practices, and traits that are commonly accepted as "good" and hard to argue with in the context of running and growing a business.
They result from the breadth and depth of shared experiences from the seasoned entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executives who serve as Mentors in our program. And they lead to actions, behaviors, and decisions of increasingly effective leaders who are building increasingly smart, healthy, and durable companies.
They go beyond the simple sound bites like, "hire slow and fire fast." Instead, they're more nuanced: "hire slower than before, and fire faster than before." And they're more detailed, describing how leaders can improve their hiring and firing practices by crafting more consistent job descriptions, asking the same interview questions, setting standards for new hires in the first 30 days, etc.
The more these leaders are seeing positive results from implementing such practices, the more virtuous they're becoming. And the more those practices are becoming new standards in their individual companies, the more virtuous those firms are becoming.
To us, it's growing evidence that we're on the right track towards fulfilling our mission at Junto: to make leaders and their companies infinitely better at who they are and what they do.