Innovation Junkies Podcast

Ash Richardson on Using Technology to Execute Strategy

The Jeffs talk with Ash Richardson, co-founder of #team & #stratapp & a strategy leader with 20+ years’ digital & technology experience. Don’t miss this episode as they discuss: solving strategy execution for companies of all sizes, widespread strategy adoption & behavior changes from top to bottom in the company, how #stratapp lets leadership and clients form plans, collaborate, & consult all in one app.

Jeff Standridge: This is Jeff Standridge, and this is the Innovation Junkies podcast. If you want to drastically improve your business, learn proven growth strategy and generate sustained results for your organization, you’ve come to the right place. Over the next half hour, we’re going to be sharing specific strategies, tactics and tips that you can use to grow your business. No matter the size, no matter the industry, no matter the geography. Weekly, we’ll bring in a top mover and shaker. Someone who’s done something unbelievable in his or her business and will dig deep. We’ll uncover specific strategies and tactics and tools that they’ve used to help you achieve your business goals. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies podcast.

Hey guys, if you’re looking to put your business on the fast track to achieving sustained strategic growth, this episode is sponsored by the team at Innovation Junkie to learn more about our GrowthDX, go to\growthdx. Now let’s get on with the show.

Jeff Standridge: Hey guys, Jeff Standridge here, and welcome to the next episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. Great to have you here.

Jeff Amerine: Yes, Jeff Amerine. I’m glad to be back. And I think we’ve got a great guest lined up. Who we got today, Jeff?

Jeff Standridge: We do. All the way from the Gold Coast of Australia, just up the M1 from Brisbane in Queensland, we have Ash Richardson. Ash has 20 years of digital and technology experience and strategy experience as well. He’s co-founded a couple of companies. One of which is called #team. He has also spent time with Accenture and a number of other companies, previously a VC investing in technology startups. And he’s now the co-founder of #stratapp, which we’re going to be learning a lot about. He’s got unique skills in product strategy, design, and also in offshoring. He and I share some common experiences there, which I’m sure we’ll talk about as well. Ash, great to have you with us today.

Ash Richardson: Hey guys.

Jeff Standridge: You already said you’re on your second coffee, right?

Ash Richardson: I am. It’s early here. 7:20. And I must say we’re from the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast itself. We’re on the-

Jeff Standridge: Oh, okay. All right.

Jeff Amerine: Oh, the Sunshine Coast?

Ash Richardson: Yeah.

Jeff Standridge: See, I just showed my ignorance there with geography.

Ash Richardson: It’s only the locals that’ll care. Don’t worry.

Jeff Standridge: I thought I might get it by the skin of my teeth, but I guess I missed it.

Jeff Amerine: Well, you’re in an area where the weather’s never really bad though, right? It’s always nice in Queensland, isn’t it?

Ash Richardson: Correct. Yeah.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, that’s what we understand. And speaking of that, sometimes what we like to do a bit of random musing. So today’s random musing is tell us about your worst weather story. And it could be from Australia or wherever.

Ash Richardson: Mine personally would be as a child, just living a bit south from here, we had a hailstorm that took out a 100 m strip, a little bit like those tornadoes that go through the U.S. And it just destroyed houses in a snake form through the suburb. And our house was one of them. So it lost that side of the house.

Jeff Standridge: Oh, wow!

Ash Richardson: Then you’re in the house, and there’s football-size hail coming through the windows, and the walls are getting smashed. It was pretty amazing. And the roofs come off.

Jeff Standridge: And this was in Australia.

Ash Richardson: That was in Australia. Yeah.

Jeff Standridge: Wow! Yeah, Jeff, how about you?

Jeff Amerine: Well, yeah. I mean another supercell story. And this was from when I lived in Southwest Wyoming, which is a place that doesn’t have that many storms. But when they have storms, they’re pretty epic. And so it was in August of 1985, and I’ve lived out there for about a year. And we had a supercell that came across that dumped about eight inches of rain on Cheyenne. It was at the Air Force Base there in about 45 minutes. And it turned all the roads into canals. And I lost two vehicles in that. And I actually was in one of the vehicles trying to get out of the main gate of the Air Base and had to swim to shore.

Jeff Standridge: Wow!

Ash Richardson: Wow!

Jeff Amerine: So, yeah, that was probably my worst weather story. And when you’re young like that, you don’t think anything about it and realize that was a near-death experience. But I’d be mortified if I had to live through that again. Jeff, what about you?

Jeff Standridge: My worst weather story comes, of all places, from London, England. And it lasted from November of 2003, to February of 2004. It was about six hours of daylight. And it was rainy every day, every weekend. And we got almost no vitamin D, no sunshine. And so finally when March rolled around, weather started perking up a little bit. But that’s probably my worst weather experience where it was extended weepiness and rain and drizzle and darkness and what have you, so.

Jeff Amerine: That’s just normal England, whether that time of year.

Jeff Standridge: No, I know. But we didn’t say what’s the worst weather story, we said, what’s your worst weather story.

Jeff Amerine: All right. I got you. I got you.

Jeff Standridge: And that was it, so.

Jeff Amerine: Well, we can cross off any of our potential London listeners at this point, I guess.

Jeff Standridge: I loved London March to October.

Jeff Amerine: Right.

Jeff Standridge: It’s fantastic. But that November to February was a little rough for me, so.

Jeff Amerine: I got you. I got you. Well, let’s get into the meat of the matter here. Now, I love your advertising on the shirt there. That’s great branding. Tell us a little bit about what the application does and how you came to create it.

Ash Richardson: So the application’s called #stratapp and the product solves strategy execution for all size companies. So we set about connecting leaders in the company to middle management and frontline employees in one experience so that everyone’s moving in the same direction. And like all things, when you go to create it, you don’t actually set out with that in mind. You’re looking at different problems and aspects. And I met my co-founder a few years ago, Marten, who’d been in tech for 20 years as well. And he worked a lot across Asia in distributing. He worked for Concur, which is now SAP Concur. He built the Asia business for that. And more recently, Cooper. He was heading up Asia for Cooper. And I was with Accenture previously and traveling mostly in Europe and the U.S.. And the same story we had was everywhere you went, there’s this big disconnect between what the leaders are trying to do or thinking and what’s happening and what’s actually happening inside the company.

And then later on, I got to work in a smaller company, investing as a VC in startups and then did some mid-market deals as well. And just sold the same thing. It doesn’t matter if there’s 50 employees or 200 or 500, or you’re getting up into proper mid-market sized companies, 1500, just this huge disconnect. And it gets harder and harder, the larger the company is. And it takes you by surprise as a startup as well. I’ve sat on a number of boards. And as you go from five to 15 to 25 employees, and you listen to founders talking on podcasts of tech companies, they’ll just talk about the pain of that journey. And then you cross 100 and you get to 200 employees. So we just thought about that long and hard, and then had a good look at tech, because we love tech, and we’ve been in it for forever.

And particularly the last 10 years of work collaboration tech, initially social, and then it’s expanded. And we’ve just figured out that actually you could take that experience that everyone loves already and have become accustomed to over the last 10 years, and use that experience to solve ideation, to planning, to strategy, to execution. And so that’s what we said we’re going to do. And we did it. And it’s now live and getting great feedback, and we’re in nine countries, and we’re still early. And we’re about to go through that growth phase, right? But we’re running it inside the app, so we should be fine.

Jeff Standridge: So talk to us a little bit about how the app works. You talk about ideation to planning, to strategy, and then execution. Take your best use case perhaps, and share with us a little bit about how it actually works and what goes on inside the app and how it improves performance.

Ash Richardson: Sure. So we’ve taken a conscious decision to stay out of strategy development. So that’s the part that scares most folks, right? So it scares, or they don’t do it. I met a professor in London, the country, you were bagging a little bit.

Jeff Standridge: Help me out here Ash. You’re getting me in trouble with all of our London listeners.

Ash Richardson: Sorry, I’ve got to turn it down. So he’d just done a PhD. I can’t remember the university. Oxford or Cambridge. And he’d figured out there were 96 methods to create strategy. And I remember at Accenture, we had a different method to KPMG, which was different again to the approach from McKinsey. So there’s so many different ways to formulate strategy. However, most folks are pretty good at that in my experience, they know roughly, “Hey, this is where we want to go. And this is why. And then three or four years from now, this is where we’d like to be.” Where it really falls apart, is executing the strategy and moving forward. So, that’s where the app kicks into its own. And I think the one thing to get your head around is, if you build a strategy-only app, and there’s been eight good ones already on the market, and if you build a strategy-only app, you lose the workforce in terms of, there’s no reason to open the app and keep going there every day. And we realized that very early on because of our experience with other tech apps and rolling them out internationally.

So what #stratapp does is it makes sure that you’re formulating the plan and then that you can lay out your goals, sub goals, actions, and projects. And then at any level in the tree, you collaborate to execute on that particular aspect and then translate it into what you want to get done this quarter, or this month. If you’re a smaller company, you’d be doing your OKRs planning cycle monthly. If you’re a little bit bigger, most likely quarterly.

And then the third piece is actually in the same user experience. So you go from goal to objective, to project, to task, to a meeting about the task, to an action from that meeting, to identify a risk, adding ideas, all of it taking place in one experience.

And in the end, the product is 15 apps in one. But we don’t sell it like that, because that’s hard for folks to get their head around. What we’re selling is, if you’ve got 10 employees or 5,000 employees, you’ll be able to move everyone in the same direction at all levels, because you’re all working in the same experience digitally. And it includes all the aspects from the initial idea to the plan, to setting the targets and then getting it done. It’s all in one place. And then you get the secondary benefits. If you think of what Ray Dalio’s thinking is around the more transparent and clear it is inside a company going on at all levels, then the performance accelerates. And Elon Musk is another one proposing the same thinking.

Jeff Standridge: Mm-hmm. So you talk about the planning, strategy, execution. Help me understand and help us, our listeners understand about the ideation component of that. Where does that plug in to the app?

Ash Richardson: Yeah, sure. So I didn’t know this when we started the project actually. Because we were starting very much from strategy and execution. However, the ideation in tech has been around since 2000 and a couple of good British companies, we should say, are in the space. I think Bright Ideas is from the UK.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah.

Ash Richardson: And the-

Jeff Standridge: Thank you for bailing me out there on that.

Ash Richardson: Yeah, no problem. And when you look at ideation tech, it boils down to two key features. So one is crowdsourcing ideas across your organizations, running challenges, and saying, “Hey, we’ve got this problem. Please pitch in your ideas.” And they get rated and then channeled through a funnel. And then the other side of it is just capturing ideas on the fly as you go. So we’ve made sure we’ve built those two components into #stratapp so that ideation is not an annual planning exercise. It’s not something where you just go away once a year and then start thinking it’s something that’s taking place all year ‘round.

And we had to go a step further as we’re designing the product to make sure it’s even included in the conversation. So we have tagging in conversations, you can tag things as a risk, note, task, idea, request a response, request approval, make a decision. So we have, I think, 11 tags at the moment in the social side of the app. But one of them’s ideas. So if you tag something as an idea, it automatically creates an idea card inside the product, which then automatically goes up to the ideation tab and can be managed through a funnel of progress on all the ideas that you capture across the company.

Jeff Standridge: And so it’s integrated then with the strategy component as well?

Ash Richardson: Yeah. So, well there are modules that work in stages, right? So basically you got the ideation running in that module, and then you assess that. You take the best of that to inform what you’re going to do strategically. So on the strategy side, we’ve taken thinking from different thought leaders. So we’ve got to, if you think of Professor Roger Martin, HBR org, and he does a lot of work with Deloitte. He’s laid out this very good construct for sending out your direction and what capabilities you’re going to need to achieve what you want to achieve. So that page is inside #stratapp under the strategy tab.

And then we’ve also got Simon Sinek’s construct, because the next generation really wants to understand why are we doing what we’re doing? So that’s in there as well. And then as I mentioned earlier, you then move into laying out your one to three year plan, depending on which country you’re in. So some countries think more five, 10 years, right? And others are more in that one to three.

And then you build out your plan as a tree. And it’s really simple. And the biggest insight, your question before was practical insight or examples from doing it this way. I think the biggest one for me, and I’ve seen it around the world, companies of all sizes since we’ve been living with the product. Its leaders realize that the PowerPoint deck that they’re running around the company with is not really a strategy. And it feels good and it looks good, but it doesn’t actually spur action and get people moving in the same direction. And in fact, it’s often not read and ignored or forgotten after a couple of weeks.

So when you go through the process of taking that thinking you had when you were writing a PowerPoint deck and then going, “Okay, what do we need to do to achieve it?” So what are the top three things we need to do in the next 12 months? And then how do each of those breakdown, and that classic rule of three to six at each level in the tree just lays it out beautifully. So you just build this hierarchy of logic of what needs to be done. And because it’s live and interactive, the whole workforce engages with it. And that’s the difference. No one wants to read a static document once a year. Strategy should be alive and breathing, and it never stops. And if you make it easy and accessible and interactive, you’ll engage everyone in the company.

Although it’s particularly well suited to millennials per the video you guys picked up on, it actually works for all ages. Everyone wants to know what’s going on. Why am I doing what I’m doing at the company? Where does it fit in? How do I contribute? And where can I offer more value outside my immediate role? Everyone has the same end goal.

Jeff Standridge: Well, that’s certainly one of the things that caught my eye about the app. Jeff Amerine and I, we talk about the strategy work that we do. There’s no three ring binders allowed. Because many times a strategy gets created, it’s three inches thick. It goes into a three ring binder and it gets put on a shelf, and then we pull it out in 12 or 15 months to see how we’ve performed. And so I like the concept of simplistic and then also helping the actual execution and the monitoring of the execution. Very good.

Hey folks, we’ll be right back with the episode. But first, we want to tell you about a limited opportunity to take advantage of our GrowthDX. For a limited time, we’re offering a free strategy call to see whether our unique diagnostic tool is right for you. Go to\growthdx to learn more.

Talk a little bit about… I mean, this to a lot of things that we believe, which is why I think it’s really an interesting conversation. But when you come in with a platform for an enterprise, what’s the secret for getting widespread adoption and behavior changes so that you get that top to bottom adoption and people are actively using it and they don’t feel like, “Oh, it’s one more thing now that I’ve got to do.” What’s your plan been for that?

Ash Richardson: So we have to… It’s a great question. And it’s really important for our success that we get this right. That’s where your question goes, right?

Jeff Standridge: Mm-hmm.

Ash Richardson: So what we’ve found so far is generally, there is no clear plan written down, plan of action, that everyone can talk to and understand. And if you walk around a company and say, “Hey, tell me what the plan is. Where’s this business heading? How’s it going to get there and why are you doing what you’re doing?” That’s a fairly diluted and chaotic picture you’ll get back from employees.

So you do have to start with the leadership team. And so with that, we do the same with the product. So we encourage the leadership team just to say, “Hey, don’t roll it out to 150 employees or 500 straight away. Just start with the top five to eight folks in the company, and start working in one workspace, and then add the next level, and the next level, the next level.” And then it just goes naturally from there. It’s intuitive. So you don’t need end user training, but what captures the hearts and minds of people is, when your content is in there as a client, right? The client’s content. And that content needs to start with the CEOs and the leadership team.

So that also becomes… That means our onboarding can be a little bit slower and it might take a month or two for those folks to get all on the same page and happy with the content. But what happens is, they discover the other features in the app. So live meeting notes, work boards, tasks, private workspace. They just realize the power of having that all in one experience that’s pointing to your OKRs and pointing to strategies. So quite often they’ll start rolling the app out in stages, even if they’re not perfectly happy with the direction page or the why page or the strategy tree, they’ll just turn that off and enable some other parts of the app to run a bit quicker across the org.

So it’s horses for courses. But I agree with the way you frame the question, it doesn’t need to start with the leadership team. And then, it’s no different to go back to the ’80s, right? Everyone wants to be where the action is. So if there’s a presentation happening on Friday and voluntary, and if you want to go along and find out what’s going on, most people turn up and they want to hear what or where are we heading and what’s the latest, and that’s how it used to be, right? You’d sit in front of the workforce and do your presentation once a month, once a fortnight and take questions live in front of everyone else. And we’d all be on the same page. And that experience has been diluted now because we don’t work that way and we’re distributed and reliant on tech. So we’re plugging that behavior. And the adoption by middle management and frontline staff, it’s super fast and easy. It’s just getting the leaders on the same page initially. That’s the starting point.

Jeff Amerine: Got you. Do you see making linkages to performance management systems as well? So that you’ve got aligned incentives. I mean, is there going to be some tie to those platforms also?

Ash Richardson: So we will in the longer term, yeah, for sure. And what we want to do is almost automatically provide the performance appraisal type experience. And I know a lot of companies are just moving away from the annual reviews and everything else. So it should be, so live and obvious the performance of individuals and teams and different leaders in the business. So that’s where we’ll head. Right now in the product, we have the OKR methodology fully built out and live inside the product.

And again, I mentioned there’s eight strategy apps already on the market. There’s also eight, very good OKR apps, right? And again, it’s a single use app to do one thing. Like you said before, here’s another thing we’ve got to do. So inside #stratapp, you build out your monthly or quarterly OKRs and you cascade them through the organization. That’s not particularly special. The dashboard is not particularly special. It’s the same as the other apps.

Where the magic is in #stratapp, your OKRs are hanging off your strategy tree. So people have a context for, “Hey, why are we doing this this quarter? Well, it’s part of this two year goal. We’ve got to do X, Y, Z.” And then on top of that, not only do you have the context, when you’re on the dashboard in one click, you can open and see the work taking place. And that’s the magic of #stratapp. And it’s what I said at the beginning. We’re connecting strategy to targets, to the actual work, all in one experience. So you can look at that positively or negative, right? Negatively, there’s nowhere to hide. And everyone can see what’s going on. How do I get through my job without doing any work? Pretty hard. But on a positive light.

The way it’s all going, right? It’s all about being transparent and open. And really building a solid sense of direction and purpose across hundreds of people, not just three or four at the top. And this app enables you to do that. And in one click, it’s not about checking or Big Brother. It’s more about leading and being able to lead. Because if you can go five levels down into the work as a leader from the tree to the targets, to the projects, to the tasks, to the meetings. And you can just offer support, and feedback, and encouragement, and congratulate people and participate as a leader without being constrained by the old chart, just positively lead at all levels. The effect of that on your workforce is enormous. And the app’s allowing you to do that.

Jeff Standridge: So as you said, you’re in nine countries now, I believe you said with the app, and you’re live and actually functioning. Do you have any, maybe tangible anecdotes or success stories of what’s happened as a result of companies deploying #stratapp that you can share with us?

Ash Richardson: Yeah. So I think the number one feedback we get is just that sense of, right, now I know where I fit in. That’s the revelation of particularly younger folks or folks that are new to a company. And that could be at any level, right? So if you’re taking over a team and you can see what the team’s working on and what the plan is and what other folks in the company are doing, there’s no longer that three to six months induction. Get up to speed. Talk. Period. It’s happening immediately. And I love the reaction of folks when they see that inside the tech.

Another one for me that stands to mind is we had a more traditional company that’s been around 35 years in Asia, and they’re operating across four countries. And like all of us, they’re all using different apps. So some countries were on MS Teams. Others were on Slack. They had different collaboration tech for projects. And of course they’re living and breathing and email a couple of hundred emails a day. So the typical model you see wherever you go.

And initially really resisted the tech for whatever reason. I don’t know why, but the CEO insisted and he said, “Well, I’ll just have my direct reports on it. And we’ll just work inside #stratapp. And we’ll set out the goals and plans and our projects, and everyone else doesn’t have to change. We’ll just get the leadership team humming alone in the same direction inside #stratapp and we won’t disrupt anyone else.” Well within, I think it was four weeks, they had 88 people on the app across those four countries, quite a traditional company with a lot of history of M&A and issues in terms of communication and alignment, and just great to see, right? That speed of rollout, no end user training. And then people once they experience it, they see that the power of immediate communication, faster decisions, and working, not in chat channels and email, but all of your collaboration is organized around what you’re trying to do. And that’s a big shift. And it’s long overdue in my opinion.

Jeff Amerine: You’re doing things that are in some ways, right on top of, and possibly better than Slack or BaseCamp or some of the other shared workspaces that are out there. From a strategy standpoint, do you see them as potential acquisitions or how do you see that playing out?

Ash Richardson: So I think we’ll end up with one, right? So right now we’ve built it on Microsoft Azure, and we’re on the co-sell program with Microsoft globally, but we could equally end up strategically partnering with and ultimately exiting via Google, SAP, Oracle, even Facebook is another. And of course, Atlassian here in Australia, right? So I love those apps you’ve mentioned, not all of them, but I’m a huge fan of most of them.

And that’s what I mentioned before, like the 10 years ago, is when it all changed. And then five years ago, whereas where it got better and better, and that’s this concept of working on boards, some lists and cards. And when you open something, all the collaboration is happening in that space, right? So BaseCamp was certainly the pioneer of it. And what’s happened though, is we’ve ended up with 15, 25, sometimes 50 apps running inside a company. And the band-aid has been SSL, of course, right? We’ll have a single sign on therefore we can all access 30 apps seamlessly, and that’s been the way it’s gone.

And I think the other concern I have with that history is it’s all been designed and optimized for small teams. So the user experience gets a bit crazy when you have 50 or a hundred people on any of those products. So you have lots of channels, lots of noise, lots of work boards, right? There’s no hierarchy, there’s no context, and it’s not designed to run a company on it.

So it’s obviously easier for us with that history to look at it, take a fresh view and go, “Right, if we add org design, if we add social with structure, if we put this under strategy and we link strategy to goals, and then we connect the work to it,” and we take that best practice and put it here, then it’s obviously easier to do that in hindsight. And of course, when you build something from scratch, you can start with the end in mind, which is what we’ve been able to do. But definitely I see… Salesforce is another one I should have mentioned before. I see us landing with one of those brands and going deep on how the tech will work together. But right now we need to just scale up and grab as much market share as we can. Of course.

Jeff Standridge: Talk to us a little bit about your scaling plan. Where do you go from the nine countries you’re in today? What’s on the horizon?

Ash Richardson: So we’ll focus mostly on the U.S. market for the next few years. And then in the next 12 months, we’re building a version to run in Japanese, German, and Spanish. They seem to be the languages where we’re getting the most demand at the moment. And being studying hard, different ways to scale up. And we must talk about offshoring and outsourcing if you have the same interest. I’m a huge believer in the next generation of how that’s taking place. And that’ll be part of our strategy.

But the company I admire the most and it’s controversial, of course, but I love ClickFunnels, that Russell Brunson. And the reason I think it’s so relevant for us is, he’s got a product that’s pretty complicated use. #stratapp is really easy. Once you understand a few things you go, “Wow, this is really easy, because it doesn’t want, if I’m doing a risk or an idea or a task, it’s always the same user experience.” So you go, “Wow, this is really quick to learn.”

He’s got a product there for SMB market, which is complicated to use, (silence) and extremely powerful. So in parallel with that, huge capability to help you onboard and get started and overcome that initial inertia. And I think the way they’ve done that we can learn a lot from it. And I think that’s what you’ll see us doing over the next two years. So scaling up will be primarily digital. We’ll need to handhold the customer to get them started. Because once it started, they’re off and running and they love it. So I think we can learn a lot from ClickFunnels in the way they’ve done that.

Jeff Standridge: They’ve certainly built a tribe around ClickFunnels and a community of folks that are raving fans, so to speak.

Ash Richardson: Yeah. Which comes off the back of just delivering great products and great support and great service. And I’m sure we can not present on stage anywhere near as well as that guy, but the academy and the 30-day challenge. And this week, let’s build out your strategy tree. And next week we’re going to build out your okay, OKRs. And next week, we’re going to run a program to teach you how to lead in this new age of tech. And you can just imagine, right? We could have four or five things and really help customers. And it’s scalable that way because it’s one to many, the way they run those programs. So it’s personable, but it’s still one to many. So we could do the same thing for SMB.

And the other one is partners. The huge opportunity for us is consulting, and I’m guilty of it, right? Fly around the world, deliver a PowerPoint deck, three ring binders as you said before. I mean, consulting is still very much true. It’s still problem solving and writing down the solution and handing it over and then trying to win your next project. And trying to win that next project through largely relationship building and wining and dining a new client, and listening to your client describe a problem. And then you go back with a solution. It hasn’t changed much.

And the benefit was #stratapp is, you can work with your client inside the same space, and you become almost part of the organization, and the client controls that, of course. But from what I’ve seen so far, the client leaves the consultant inside #stratapp with them. So you’re not handing over PowerPoint. You’re actually evolving, executing strategy inside the tech. So that it’s easier for the client because they’ve already got things running and they don’t have to set anything up because the consultants doing it for them. And then the consultant inside the tech can see what’s going on and can immediately see when projects are falling behind, there’s decent, people are confused, lack of buy-in everything else.

So it’s really easy for the consultant to say, “Hey, we could help you with X, Y, Z.” Or “I think you should get someone else to help you with this.” So the on selling and the relationship dynamic changes. So we’re talking to, obviously the tier ones, we’ve got some great tier three to four partners. The tier twos have been a bit, we are trying to get their head into the space, but we’ve got some great tech companies that have figured it out, tech partners. And I’m hoping we can go to market quickly through one or two of those in the next six months.

Jeff Standridge: Very good. We’re talking to Ash Richardson, co-founder of #stratapp. and Ash, tell us a little bit about how folks can find you.

Ash Richardson: So easiest would be the website So Strat, S-T-R-A-T app And of course on LinkedIn. So that’d be the two main channels.

Jeff Amerine: The thing I really love about what you’re doing is many times that execution piece ends up getting pulled off by personal heroics, and they might do something just by the skin of their teeth and actually get something done. Whereas you’ve solved for the cradle-to-grave process, to where there’s no guesswork as to, “Well, now we got to use another system or we’re going to lose some continuity.” I think it’s quite unique and comprehensive. It’s just striking for those of us who were in this game and had been on all sides of the table and also have an active investment portfolio, this seems like the structure that could have a pathway like Workday and SAP, and some of the other things that had taken hold of industry and become bedrock and foundational pieces. So it’s really exciting to hear what you’re up to.

Ash Richardson: Yeah. Thank you. And we have the same view, right? Salesforce created the CRM cloud, Zeros led the way with finance cloud and no one’s touched strategy execution cloud because it’s complex. And I think what we’ve done is we’ve stayed out of strategy development, we focused on the execution piece, like you say, because that’s where the value is.

Jeff Amerine: Mm-hmm.

Jeff Standridge: Mm-hmm.

Ash Richardson: And when you think about it, when you sit on an airplane and you say to someone, “Hey, what do you do? And what are your plans for the company?” Their eyes light up. Everyone’s got a plan. Everyone’s got goals. They’re able to answer the question. And when you ask them how the last three years went, you see the deflation. Because it’s the execution, right? Is where-

Jeff Standridge: That’s right.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah.

Ash Richardson: Yeah. And that’s what we solved and really learned from that last 10 years. So take the experience that works and give that to people. And I think that’s what’s unique. And we are creating a new category of software. That’s basically the conclusion. And you mentioned investing in portfolios. This is just so perfect putting my venture capital hat on before. Instead of asking for reports and information retrospectively from your portfolio, if each portfolio company, investee companies on straight up again, you’re able to participate just like a consultant would with the company, as an investor, you can participate and collaborate in real time as things are happening and value where it counts. Because you can see what’s going on the strategy on projects, on initiatives.

And I’m still on a couple of boards. And I have that experience, I don’t know if you guys have it, where for the first 30 minutes of every board meeting is just sitting there going, “Man, it’s like we didn’t have the last meeting.” That’s how I feel. And I know management is working hard and they’re trying to explain. And the conversation becomes so operational and you get bogged down in detail, because everyone feels the need to talk and explain the hard work they’ve been doing.

But the board meeting previously laid out X, Y, and Z, and it’s like it was totally forgotten. And you go through the whole cycle again. And yeah, you can tell I’m trying to get off the boards as quickly as I possibly can. And #stratapp solves that, right? You just know what’s going on. You’ll be able to say, “Hey, we’ve just signed this marketing agency to create another sub-brand. And that was not part of the plan.” And if you’re able to see that in real time, not to control it, but just to be able to ask the question, “Hey guys, can you just fill me in on this?” And you’d nip it in right? There and then, it’d be done. And the meetings would be far more effective when you do get together each two months or every two months or quarterly.

Jeff Standridge: That’s great. Ash, we appreciate you for spending time with us today. Excited to learn more about #stratapp. Folks can find you at, as you said, the web website And I’d like to put a bug in your ear and maybe reserve the right to bring you back at some point and talk about remote workforce, offshoring, a distributed workforce in all things talent if that’s all right,at some point.

Ash Richardson: I’d love to. I’m passionate about that topic and the potential of it for both onshore and offshore. Yeah.

Jeff Standridge: Very good.

Ash Richardson: Thank you very much, guys. Thanks for having me.

Jeff Amerine: Thank you.

Jeff Standridge: Thank you for being here. Ladies and gentlemen, this has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. Thank you for joining. We’ll see you next.

Jeff Amerine: We’ll see you next time.

Hey folks, this is Jeff Amerine. We want to thank you for tuning in. We sincerely appreciate your time. If you’re enjoying the Innovation Junkies podcast, please do us a huge favor, click the subscribe button right now and please leave us a review. It would mean the world to both of us. And don’t forget to share us on social media.

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