YAY! We made it to the end of the year and I think it’s fair to say this is the busiest since we started! While that is good news, it’s not the most significant news.
For me, 2021 was the year VIISAUS became an actual business. Sounds strange? Up until now, I think we have groped around in the dark trying to determine what people value in us as a firm.
We have always managed to have clients, please them, get paid and repeat the cycle. But a glance at the type of work we have done over the years will tell you we were not well defined as a business:
2016: It was the beginning of VIISAUS and the Edo election – so we thought we were a political consulting company
2017: The year of Edojobs and Local govt. IGR, etc., we used technology a lot – so we thought we were a gov-tech company
2018: The year the table started to shake! We faced stiff competition, tried (and failed) to expand our clients and the team – so we thought, now we are a struggling gov-tech company
2019: The year the table scattered! Our main client dropped us and we couldn’t get a replacement, we went months without ANY revenue – so we didn’t even know who we were anymore!
2020: The year of COVID! This was the beginning of the team’s transition (lots of big management changes). It’s also the year we consolidated our Research capacity (SEEFAR, Palladium, GiZ, NBA) – so we thought we were a Research company
At the start of 2021, we spent plenty of time trying to find out who we were as a business (because it felt like it kept changing every year). The result was a board meeting where we restructured the company to now provide ALL the capacities we have learnt over the years; Political Consulting, Technology Consulting (for Government) and the latest one, Research. We accordingly invested in processes design, creating roles, recruiting staff and departments for all three.
We also realized that the very fluid nature of how we work as a team is more suited to a Partnership than a traditional Limited Liability firm, which meant I went from Managing Director to Managing Partner (my first new job in 5 years😊). This was great, but the transformation was not yet over, we still hadn’t placed the final piece of the puzzle, something I like to call vision alignment.
I have always had a fairytale-like vision for Nigeria and what it could be, many of the team share that vision that is why they stay and commit to the work. But for too long our corporate values have been about survival, money, getting big, and brand recognition. Sure, Nigeria has always been in there somewhere, but never the FRONT & CENTER.
In 2021, we made a deliberate effort to start making our values align with our vision and help #fixnigeria. I believe something remarkable happens when vision and values align, purpose. Because our values determine our choices and actions (i.e. if you value jollof rice over other food, when you see it in the menu, you automatically choose it), having values that align with your vision propel you towards it automatically – this is what we are calling purpose.
“A state of being where almost everything you do is strategically leading you towards the goal or destiny you have consciously set for yourself!”
This, for me, is the biggest and most significant happening of 2021. Nowadays, before corporate decisions are made we ask ourselves “how does this help fix Nigeria?”. We know now that it doesn’t matter how we are structured (Partnership, Limited liability, Consulting, etc.), the vision, the goal remains constant – VIISUAS exists to fix Nigeria.
We have had a good year when it comes to business, more clients than ever before, etc., the table has stopped shaking in that regard. But with regards to the vision; Why do we exist? We are a long long way from home. We all have a critical role to play in 2022 with regards to moving that vision closer to reality:
- By working with political leaders in a crucial election year
- By using research and technology to bring public attention to critical issues impacting society
- By contributing technical capacity and data to an incapacitated ruling government wherever possible
- By changing our behavior, such that we act like proud citizens of the country at ALL times, using every opportunity to speak positively about Nigeria wherever we are
I reviewed my LinkedIn profile the other day and realized that my VIISAUS job is the longest of my whole career! Although I have always seen it as a job, I now see it as more than that; a solemn responsibility. I’d like to assure you that my commitment remains stronger than ever and that as a team, we are now stronger than ever also. Now that we are properly aligned I do not doubt that 2022 is more than just the year we finally start operating as a true business – it’s also the year Nigeria will start its rise from the ashes as from now on, our destinies are entwined!
I wish you a purpose-filled 2022!
This newsletter was written by Jiro Ejobe (Managing Partner)