Don’t compete against yourself: lessons on scaling up with the CEO of Workboard

A book with Goals and Notes to represent the OKR during the scale up process.

Speaking with Deidre Paknad, CEO & Co-Founder of Workboard, it was clear from the start that we have one very important thing in common: we both believe that true alignment within an organization is the key to scaling up. 

As you may have heard from following ScaleUp Valley, I’m a major proponent for the Rockefeller Habits of scaling up. When implemented, they function as a toolbox for reaching every layer of an organization to align on common goals and values.scaling

The second Paknad began to describe the values she’s brought to all three of the organizations that she’s Co-Founded, including PSS Systems that was sold to IBM, it was clear that sincere alignment  – a kind that can be cultivated by the Rockefeller Habits – was at the top of her list. This is ultimately one of the reasons why she was inspired to Co-Found, lead, and scale Workboard, a process that we got to hear all about on Episode 78 of the ScaleUp Valley podcast. 

If you haven’t heard it yet, you can listen here or read my highlights from our conversation below.

Triple, triple, double, double growth

Paknad is no stranger to scaling up. So it isn’t a surprise that Workboard is currently in the middle of a triple, triple, double, double growth scheme, having accomplished two years of tripling growth in a row.

This past March, they raised their Series B round of $23 million bringing their total capital raised to about $35 million. And Paknad was happy to report that for every dollar that they spend on sales and marketing, they generate two dollars in revenue. 

This is major scaling magic, for which Paknad thanks the company’s efficiency and systematic process of alignment. It also happens to be what they specialize in, as their software helps enterprise companies align their multi-layer and often global organizations. 

So how do they implement their secret sauce within their own organization? For one, they use the OKR system, although Paknad disclosed that she has a very clear definition of what alignment truly is. She said, “What alignment really means is declaring what it is that we’re trying to accomplish and declaring all of the measurements that say what success really is. Then, staying tuned in those choices week after week. I think that reduces distraction.”

That brings us to her next piece of advice: picking your focus.

Thinking of scaling in terms of unit economics 

How does Paknad decide where to focus her scaling efforts? She says it all goes back to the math of driving growth. 

When she thinks about where they’re going to invest their time and effort, she thinks about what it will cost to acquire a dollar in revenue. If they spend a dollar to acquire two dollars in revenue, then they’ll have more to invest in the future. 

Once you become less efficient, meaning, for example, that you’re trying to do too many things or enter too many verticals, then it costs you more. Mostly, it costs time on doing things well. 

“If you are chasing a thousand things it’s a form of competing with yourself. There’s a ton of competition in the market, we don’t need to compete with ourselves,” she stated. 

Of course, this isn’t all the advice she imparted to us about the scale up journey in our conversation. If you haven’t given it a listen, I suggest you do so here

Then, keep listening and keep scaling!

Mike Dias