Austrian company employs new people-centric strategy execution methodology to achieve sustainable success – and fast
How do you get the best out of your employees in this day and age? What do you need to lead a startup to a successful future? One man who certainly knows the answers is Martin Klässner, former CEO and Co-Founder of has·to·be. In 2021, eight years after founding the software firm in 2013, Klässner registered the most valuable exit in Austrian startup history. Now the team behind that success is sharing how companies can grow both fast and sustainably. They’ve developed the people-centric ‘Art of Acceleration’ (AOA) strategy execution methodology, at the core of which lies the know-how that allowed has·to·be to outperform the market and its competitors and scale to such an exceptional level. And with that, the crew from Salzburg Province is providing Europe’s first answer to American-dominated management frameworks such as the OKRs framework popularized by Google and others.
Radstadt, November 2023 – The company, which was founded in Salzburg Province and is still based there, was sold to an American competitor for a record sum of €250 million in 2021. Two years on, former CEO and Co-Founder of has·to·be Martin Klässner is making the business community sit up and take notice with another project. Along with Co-CEO Jerolim Filippi, who made an important contribution to the development and deployment of the AOA methodology in his capacity as marketing lead at has·to·be, Klässner founded GrowthSquare GmbH in July 2023. The company’s core product is the ‘Art of Acceleration’ (AOA) – a novel strategy execution methodology that puts the focus on people, seeing them as a fundamental factor in the success of a business. The methodology is a completely new approach in this sector. The concept allows teams within companies to execute strategies quickly and to the best of their capabilities. With an experienced team of experts including some who were part of the has·to·be journey, GrowthSquare provides the AOA methodology, an AOA management software platform and AOA coaching services for just that purpose. “Our experience with has·to·be made it clear to us that the success of a business is directly connected to the ability to foster constructive thinking and empower employees to make their own decisions,” says Klässner. GrowthSquare is set up to leverage these basic principles, using them to achieve extraordinary success both faster and more effectively.
Austria’s answer to the OKRs framework
What Klässner and his team are also proving with GrowthSquare is that the immense success of has·to·be was no accident. Rather, it was the result of a committed, deliberate focus on the company’s people and their basic need to perform. “The employees’ contribution and how they work together are the key factors in a company’s success,” stresses Filippi. “When has·to·be began to grow, we looked for a way to guide employees to do the right things, while keeping track of progress and setting measurable goals.” Filippi goes on to explain that at first, the team tried working with OKRs, the framework that sprang to prominence through Google. But the US-centric approach to KPI-led employee management didn’t work for has·to·be. Empowering teams to do the right things and take autonomous decisions that make sense in the broader company context requires all relevant information to be made available in full. The fact that OKRs didn’t allow for structured knowledge sharing, understanding realities and providing all relevant information to enable easy, bottom-up action-setting, meant it didn’t match what has·to·be had in mind. “We wanted something that enables every individual throughout the company to contribute to and drive company success by unlocking their full potential,” Filippi explains. “Since there was no such management methodology on the market, we developed our own.”
An intrinsically motivated workforce is a more productive one
With the help of the AOA methodology, has·to·be was able to grow from a startup with 40 employees to a scaleup with 150 workers – in the space of two years. At the same time, the productivity of the existing teams jumped by up to 40 percent while departmental silos were broken up and cross-functional teamwork improved markedly. “The intrinsic motivation to reach every quarterly goal in a short period of time increased considerably throughout the organization,” underlines Klässner. Thus has·to·be was able to leave its international competitors behind and become the European market leader. At the time of its sale to the American charging solutions provider ChargePoint, has·to·be had a market share of over 30% and had dominated the European eMobility market. The price, too, was remarkable: a €250 million valuation made the sale of has·to·be the biggest startup exit in Austria to date.
Accelerating success through people-centric management
GrowthSquare is aimed at all companies dealing with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), and who are looking for solutions that will boost their business success or fulfill their international growth potential by enhancing their strategy execution excellence. That includes startups, SMEs and corporates that see their people as their most valuable asset. AOA can be adapted to any business model, any industry and any organization size. Although the firm from Salzburg Province is only a few months old, more than four years of real-world methodology development time has already been invested and numerous companies with several hundred employees are already counting on the AOA strategy execution methodology and its promise of extraordinary success.
Headquartered in Radstadt, GrowthSquare GmbH was founded in 2023 with the aim of supporting businesses in executing their strategies as quickly and efficiently as possible. The company saw a problem in the fact that strategies lose up to 60% of their economic potential because of human behavioral patterns, an issue that affects companies of all sizes across different industries. As a solutions provider, GrowthSquare has specialized in the ‘Art of Acceleration’ (AOA) – the very first people-centric strategy execution methodology. The methodology is complemented by an AOA cloud-based management platform. The goal is to grow resilient companies predicated on transparency and breed target-oriented, harmoniously aligned and high-performing teams made up of intrinsically motivated employees. GrowthSquare GmbH supports companies in putting their strategies into action and achieving sustainable success. More information at www.growthsquare.com.
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