Fable is a modern business with a host of digital assets, each essentially representing its own standalone business but all clustered under the Fable umbrella, and all showcasing the strong customer experience and beautiful, considered design on which Fable rightly prides itself. Fable’s two leading businesses – aucklandweddings.co.nz and nzvenues.co.nz – are major online directories that help New Zealanders find and organise nearly everything they need to plan their ideal wedding or event.
Fable had a smart, strong, nimble team but the leaders of the business were finding it challenging to give Fable the attention it deserved and support their team while also working to take the business forward and truly build a scalable, valuable company. Initially, their need was for external expertise and extra firepower, and Tactical.ly was brought on to help in this regard. However, soon after beginning our engagement with Fable we uncovered some major foundational and structural issues in the business that needed resolution before true performance transformation could begin.
Tactical.ly initially started working with Fable on our Business Performance service, delivered through Consulting and Mentoring to help Fable achieve their aims of a scalable business with increasing profitability that would represent a desirable asset for acquisition in the future.
As we do with all our engagements, we deployed our organisational performance framework and allowed the first two months to conduct discovery and put in place a solid foundation of priorities, setting us up for ongoing delivery from the third month. During the discovery process, we dove deep, in order to really learn and truly what Fable was all about. We covered almost everything – product and services, customers and customer experience, profit and loss, company structure and systems, people and culture, team performance and career development systems, operational scalability, sales processes, leadership structure and everything else – and while it was clear that the Fable founders and team had built what we saw as a hugely valuable business, there was plenty of room for improvement.
Conducting discovery, we identified that Fable were actually somewhat under distress as a business and needed some major change to steady the ship. Our aim is always to transform while we perform – but for Fable we saw that there were some bigger structures that needed to be set right first. Fable agreed with us that the business had the wrong people in the wrong roles, and that clashing ideas and vision were stifling momentum.
Despite the need for change, we still ensured we worked with Fable to develop the foundations that form a large part of our performance framework. This work meant we had the correct insights to inform the strategy and the tactical actions needed – it was pivoting, but with a plan. We developed a business intelligence (B.I) system and forecast that allowed us to see the future for Fable and build scenarios for us, to allow data-driven strategies to guide the reform and improvements Fable needed. With this B.I system in place, and our backlog of prioritised actions and initiatives ready for use, we moved to quickly reduce the stress on the business so we could focus on performance.
The most important functional change we supported was developing a strong agreement between the Directors as to how Fable could and should best grow in the future. This saw Fable move one director into a non-executive Director role, enable and empower another to operate as the Managing Director (MD), and restructure another leader of the business into a Sales Director (SD) role.
With the effect on the operational side of the business, some detailed change management was required for the organisation. Some of the key deliverables and changes we implemented were:
Over just a few months with Fable, we achieved a large amount of fast and robust structural change. These needed to be executed perfectly with full team buy-in, and happily this has been the case – the team (leadership included!) are thrilled with the changes and the increase in transparency across the business, and everyone has a deeper understanding of what is expected from them. The Fable team has proven to be happier and more motivated than ever.
With the leadership structure formalised and the first few board meetings under our belt, we refocused our attention on minor iterations and refinements over the following months, to ensure the business is consistently humming and is set for the long term.
Having Hayden establish our Board and serve as a Special Advisor has been key in helping us build a mature business.
It’s not uncommon for a business to underperform due to not having the right people, in the right roles, at the right time – or even because people don’t have the right support to do their job. Along with risking your business’ profitability, you are also doing your people an injustice when it comes to their career growth.
We see this relatively often and it can be hard to identify without some external input. However, if you have a robust team dynamics solution, you lead highly tailored and focused 1:1s with your team, and you have a solid annual appraisal rhythm that is carefully considered and designed to support your team, then you might just be ahead of the curve and ready to solve this issue before it causes distress.