How Suraj of Jadu uses Know Your Company

“Most of the great ideas aren’t in your head – they are in the heads of the people who help you build your business.”

When Suraj said that to me, it spoke volumes about the kind of leader he is.

Suraj Kika is the CEO of Jadu, a web experience software company with over 70 people, three international offices, and hundreds of customers all over the world.

I got a chance to meet Suraj in person at the Business of Software Conference in Boston in September 2015. His company, Jadu, has been using Know Your Company since the beginning of 2014, and has had a lot of success with it.

I asked him to share his takeaways of how he uses Know Your Company here, as it might be relevant and helpful for you and your company.


Summary: Here are the key takeaways of what makes Suraj successful…

(1) Use Know Your Company as a way to manage expectations around a big company change

(2) Customize the Know Your Company questions to sound like your voice and relate to what’s going on in the company

(3) Actively encourage folks to answer a Know Your Company question that is important

(4) Respond to your own Know Your Company questions

(5) Have a section in his New Employee Handbook about Know Your Company


Bootstrapped global business that’s been around for ~12 years

“Jadu started by accident. My parents were in business whilst I was growing up and my father started up (and shut down) several businesses – plenty of uncertainty and risk. So I always said to myself, I would never start up a company… and of course, that’s what I ended up doing.

As a web designer, having worked in many, many corporations, I thought there was a better way. So I saved up some money, bootstrapped Jadu for the first couple of years before I started hiring. And that’s where my challenges really started.”

Wanted to alleviate the silence within his team and the frustrations that causes

“After hire number five or number six, that’s when I realized that the moment you start grouping people together, you change the dynamic with every person you add. You also bring in a whole bunch of new challenges in people management and culture.

Now we’re up to over 70 people and we’re growing rapidly now. That challenge has started to become my main concern – it’s keeping the people / culture of the business as we grow successful. Especially internationally, where you may not be in the same office or even the same country as the critical employees who report to you. Jadu is a people focused, close-knit team. We invest heavily in every employee, because to us, they are the reason our customers are successful.

We wanted to alleviate the silence within our team and the frustrations that causes. People in large groups tend to take on different behaviours than they would in a smaller group, particularly when the team is made of super-smart software people.

Our company was growing quickly and we wanted to get feedback on how we were doing. Suggestion boxes seemed so outdated and frankly, something most people would ignore. We wanted something that worked in the native ‘digital’ environment my team lived and worked in.

We started using Know Your Company, and people started using it straight away. And so here we are a year later and we are still using the system – much more than company feedback now, Know Your Company is ‘teamsourcing’ ideas, starting conversation and supporting decisions.”

Uses Know Your Company as a way to manage expectations around a big company change (such as removing their entire sales team)

“Last year, we started making some really big changes. One of the first changes was removing our entire direct sales people. It was a tough, brave decision – but we knew it was in the best interest of our company. We wanted to focus on customer needs and reduce the time it took to respond to those needs, with expert knowledge and a deep understanding of the way the web works. We wanted customers to connect directly with us.

We used Know Your Company pretty extensively in the whole process of making that decision easier on the rest of our team. We asked very specific questions on the before, during, and after, which were designed to get them thinking in the right way.

Naturally, when you lose a number of people in a tight team, it can cause instability. But Know Your Company helped us manage the expectation, and more importantly, gather feedback. So the questions were very specifically pointed to “How are you doing?”, “How are you feeling?”, “Do you think the decisions we’ve made are right?” that sort of thing.

That was really helpful both for me to understand how individuals were doing, but also it gave us a lot of confidence to know that we had made the right decision, and we had implemented it in the right way – sympathetically and carefully. A year on from making that first change, we have significantly increased customer satisfaction, increased sales and ramped up hiring software engineers, developers and designers. We aren’t hiring anyone sales.”

Customizes the Know Your Company questions to sound like his voice and relate to what’s going on in the company

“I customize the Company Question in Know Your Company as often as possible. My team knows if I don’t, as the tone is different (versus using US English). I also try to ask questions that are relevant for what we are doing at that time.”

Actively encourages folks to answer a Know Your Company question that is important

“I try not to force the answers on anybody, but we do actively encourage people to answer them and follow up when sometimes people don’t. So when I really want people to answer and I want a maximum number of people answering, I’ll put a message up on Slack to our general channel. And I’ll ask people to just start responding. I also email groups of people who don’t respond and ask. I always read the dashboard in Know Your Company before a one-on-one. I do one-on-one’s with every employee – which is a real luxury for me with the size of team we have.”

Responds to his own Know Your Company questions

“I definitely use Know Your Company myself. I always respond to my own questions. I now make a point of doing that whenever I can, unless it’s obvious that I don’t need to.”

Has a section in their New Employee Handbook about Know Your Company

“We talk about Know Your Company in the new start guide, called Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jadu. Every new employee gets one on his or her first day. It’s written in kind of a Douglas Adams style. And it’s actually written by every employee who’s hired. It’s currently in a Google Doc, and after a few weeks after someone has started, they’ll get access to the Google Doc, and start editing it. And people write their own jokes and witty comments - which takes the edge of reading policies. We have a section for all key systems, like Google Drive, Slack, our Blog and social media accounts - there is also a section on Know Your Company, that explains what the service does, and why it’s important that people use it.”

Why knowing your company matters

“Know Your Company matters because (A) it helps me and the team get feedback and (B) we get to find out about the unique, interesting facts about my team, especially while I’m in another country on business. I don’t have to be casually passing them in the hallway. The Heartbeat Question in Know Your Company also gives me a helicopter view of what’s happening on the ground.

It also helps my team get to know each other a little bit more. It’s important as we grow, and as we see new people at Jadu everyday.

Most of the great ideas aren’t in your head – they are in the heads of the people who help you build your business. It’s important to at least know what those ideas and opinions are, even if you can’t or don’t do anything about them. You never know when you will need and use them.”


To recap: Here’s how you can apply what Suraj does to your own company…

(1) Use Know Your Company as a way to manage expectations around a big company change

(2) Customize the Know Your Company questions to sound like your voice and relate to what’s going on in the company

(3) Actively encourage folks to answer a Know Your Company question that is important

(4) Respond to your own Know Your Company questions

(5) Have a section in your New Employee Handbook about Know Your Company

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