Our CEO and co-founder Bart Lorang revisits the Visionary-Integrator duo, implemented at FullContact six months ago with the appointment of President & COO, Tim Prunk.
Since our inception, FullContact has always been about relationships with the people who matter most. When I knew that I could no longer fulfill the duties of both a Visionary and Integrator at our company, I took the necessary steps to find someone who could facilitate changes and execute strategies inside the business. When Tim came on board in February, I was excited to start a relationship with an Integrator who could act in the best interest of the company I’ve been building for the past eight years.
About six weeks after Tim started, we hit the road together for three weeks, attending an offsite in Iceland and touring our offices in Riga, Kochi, Tel Aviv, and Dallas. In fact, I spent more time with Tim than I did with my wife on our honeymoon. But what I’ve learned over the years is that shared experiences can help create a bond quickly. Especially when you’re spending almost 18 hours a day, seven days a week with someone. After that world tour, we spent time visiting customers on both coasts, learning how they were using our product, and further getting to know one another.
Tim and I are very different— but in all the best ways. What we’re building at FullContact requires people with different backgrounds and experiences in order to make it great. This requires practice, patience, and always being on the same page. In order to make this happen, Tim and I are following the five rules of the Integrator-Visionary duo from Rocket Fuel.
The first rule is to stay on the same page at all times. Tim and I meet for two hours every week, working through a list of issues, priorities, and items. Like any relationship, we can disagree but always present a united front. As Tim is fond of saying, “If two people in business always agree with each other, perhaps one of them is unnecessary.” A debate is healthy and we encourage it. But at the end of the debate, a decision is made and both of us get on board. We have different styles and different ways to achieve the same end. It takes a great deal of courage, and forgiveness, for a CEO to work through a COO.
Second, no end runs. Tim has direct reports that used to report to me and it’s easy for them to come to me with quick things if the opportunity arises. But in order for our relationship to work, I can’t take action. I can listen or coach, but I don’t decide. Ultimately, it’s still Tim’s decision and he gets to make the call.
Third, the Integrator is the tie-breaker, regardless of the power dynamic. Tim will tell you, it’s uncomfortable to make decisions without having the benefit of being at the company since the beginning. But he’s great at listening to all opinions, weighing every option, and acting in the best interest of the business. Though he didn’t hire his direct reports, he trusts them to do their job. It’s the “Prunk principle” – the concept that, similar to the “Peter Principle” where an individual is promoted to their level of incompetence, he was promoted past his level of incompetence – meaning his direct reports are better at what they do than he is, so they have the freedom to do their jobs! We give our executives the tools and authority they need to succeed. If they know what we are trying to accomplish and agree on the fundamental principles it takes to get there, we stay out of their way.
Fourth- Tim and I are employees in this business and we have to follow the same structure as everyone else. This can be challenging since many decisions and processes eventually roll up to us, but we follow the rules of EOS just like everyone else and lead by example.
And finally, never say a bad word about your partner in the organization EVER. We maintain mutual respect.
Every relationship is different and Tim and I are still learning the best way to lean on each other’s strengths. It’ll probably be a year before this we’re fully snapped into this partnership.
Looking back on the past six months, we’ve gone through a lot of change as a company. Tim likens it to construction on a building (an example that we know all too well in downtown Denver). There’s as much work going on underground as there is above ground. We are working hard to lay the foundation of a lasting company and recent achievements like winning the Best Data API award, a MarTech Breakthrough Award, and ranking #1100 on the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies list validates to us that we’re headed in the right direction.