Our Next 3 Years at MISSION+

Ned Lowe and Nick Martin
Sep 30, 2023

This is an internal document presented to our colleagues at MISSION+ as we planned for 2024.

This essay only covers a three year forward looking view of M+. While we are inspired by and working towards defining our multi decade goal (credit to Jim Collins and Good to Great), we took inspiration from Tuncarp founder Chris Murphy who put us onto the concept of a 3HAG or a “3 year highly achievable goal”, which allows us as a team to align on the immediate execution journey and how we work together in the near term.

Why Do We Exist?

Building products is hard. But it is an essential activity - Software Is Eating The World. Our lives, and all lives, have been immeasurably improved by our access to high quality software products that make tasks easier and expand opportunities.

We exist to help others build great products. In doing so, we improve lives.

The Problem Statement

Founders and managers want to work with the best people. Getting access to that talent is hard.

Many believe that hiring is essential to working with the right people. “Outsourcing” is often a dirty word. There is a chasm between hiring and outsourcing, that our customers need to cross.

But the world is changing. Companies are evolving from a traditional model of working.

Existing Companies Mindset (do not work with M+)

  • Rely on tenure and experience
  • All the work is done inside
  • Maintain strict rules for ways of working 
  • Generally Full time employees

Evolving Company Mindset (work with M+ or interested in doing so)

  • Want to access new expertise and learning
  • Will use external talent when needed
  • Can adapt working style for innovative product delivery
  • Open to Contracting, Freelancing, Fractionalised employees and Outsourced teams

So why is it hard for us when people have already chosen to outsource? Currently, outsourcing is undifferentiated from the outside. There is too much choice, and people don’t know who to choose. They will often default to the biggest players, due to social proof and “nobody gets fired for choosing IBM”.

Sometimes it isn't about the best people. It’s about adopting the best practices. We need to lead by example and continue communicating our beliefs about how to build. This is facilitated mostly via our Fractional CTOs but it is a responsibility for all team members to contribute to and understand these best practices.

What are some of these best practices?

The state of the art will forever live in draft but here are four areas that we fall back on today:

Strategic Product Building

A collaborative and iterative approach that emphasises the importance of feedback loops between product owners and builders to create successful products. This method is crucial as it minimizes risks and costs while maximizing the probability of creating products that truly resonate with users.

  • A strategic approach to building product reduces time, effort, and resources while maximising the probability of success.
  • Some of the ways include implementing feedback loops for iterative learnings.
  • Establishing product ownership.
  • Managing expectations—in which change is the only constant—increasing adaptability.
  • Using state of the art frameworks and tools.

Read further here

Being Uncomfortably Simple

A lean product development approach where as much functional and technical complication as possible is stripped away from a project or product, with an emphasis on building with potential users for feedback, then iterating on this process repeatedly—ensuring a validated product that people want and love using.

  • Gall’s Law: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.
  • We build a product people love through simplicity.
  • Practices include rapid prototyping.
  • Buying solutions instead of building—until proven otherwise.
  • Reducing scope to it’s essentials.
  • And many more.

Read further here

Unlocking Agility Always

Simple changes and best practices can be made to drive large-scale change towards a more agile operation.

  • Speed to market/execution is an advantage
  • To go faster by removing bottlenecks
  • We do this by using a frictionless communication platform
  • Adopting a culture of writing
  • Ensuring certifications are in place
  • And having frequent product demos

Read further here

Building Technology Pillars 

​​Building products is increasingly about wiring together the most appropriate frameworks, libraries and SaaS tools to achieve the best results in the fastest time. Having expertise in specific pillars allows us to choose the most suitable instruments for the job. 

These pillars include:

  • Identity Management
  • AI
  • Data
  • Alternate Cloud
  • Low/No-Code
  • SRE/DevOps
  • Cybersecurity

We will hire pillar leads at the right intersection of people and market demand. Each of these pillars requires the same discipline of management and operation.

How Does This Help Us Win?

The flip-side of operating in a difficult, hard-to-differentiate environment is that we need to maintain belief in our practices so we can be consistently better than our competitors. 

“Better” helps us with:

  • Trust
  • Quality
  • Branding

The work on Mission Control is critical to building trust and provides transparency into how we operate. Trust provides a bridge across the chasm. 

Our team Code of Conduct improves how we operate. Quality results from improved execution.

F’in Tech and other community engagement is how we build our Brand. People buy from people, and by establishing we are trusted leaders in the technology space, we win.

Additionally, we need to encourage our customers to cross the chasm between hiring and outsourcing. This is also based on Trust, Quality and Branding.

What Does M+ In Three Years Look Like?

  • We are further established as a “go to” technology builder for organisations that want to build the best products.
  • We have recognised expertise in emerging areas that have market demand.
  • We have sales operations out of Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. 
  • We have a strategic partner in the Middle East.
  • We have built out additional design and engineering capability in the Philippines, Vietnam and Pakistan.
  • We run the most well-known FinTech community in Asia, with events people look forward to and talk about.
  • We are regularly approached by agencies that want to be part of the MISSION+ umbrella and we take financial ownership in some of these companies.

What is a Financial Partnership?

We should be looking to take an investment in design and technology agencies, once we have validated them extensively. Earlier we spoke about Chris Murphy at Tuncarp. Taking an investment in Tuncarp is not merely a financial investment, it is a partnership and alignment investment. It allows us to access a variety of different skill sets from companies that we look up to, for the different things that they do. 

Equally, through our activities, as much as we understand product building, we also understand simple service businesses, particularly across Asia. We understand their challenges, their potential and their environment. This gives us an advantage in selecting the best investment opportunities. This is another reason why we’ve hired experienced personnel such as Lavanya and Laura to oversee these initiatives. 

As we mature, we will develop playbooks for how to improve these businesses and make them more efficient. This should operate under a maxim of ‘decentralised support’ around the following areas:

  • Strategy and planning - helping with plans that align with goals and objectives
  • Sales, marketing & branding - best practice for sales process management and customer relationship management
  • Ops and support - user guide for hiring and onboarding, financial management, legal and client support
  • Talent management - playbook for attracting and retaining top talent, including performance management, employee development and succession planning

This is an area where we will co-learn and share best practices. In short we want each company to maintain the culture of their 2 pizza rule, ensure their mission continues and profit share to ensure maximum alignment for the people that we work with. 

What’s next?

Look forward to “The Mission”, which will give further insight into how we can take this summary and ensure we’re aligned so we continue empowering entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and visionaries to build great products.

Let's talk

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