Lately the word innovation seems to be in every business article you read and the topic of conversation at many business seminars. The idea that companies need to transform themselves and “innovate” in this economy is paramount. We sat down recently with Craig Gunderson, president and CEO of Oxford Networks, to talk about how
Oxford Networks transformed itself from a traditional 100 year old telephone company into a leading cutting edge telecommunications provider and why it was necessary.
As Oxford Networks approached its 100 year anniversary in 2000 there was a deliberate decision to change the direction of the company. Tell us why that was necessary and how it has impacted the company.
Thanks to some very forward thinking people in the company, there was a realization that telecommunications services and expectations were changing in the marketplace and that the company needed to evolve with that technology in order to stay competitive. The company assembled a talented group of engineers and business professionals to create a strategy to embrace change and innovation and to create an aggressive growth plan. The group realized that in order for the changes to lead to long-term growth the entire company had to evolve and embrace a different way of doing business. No small task.
Oxford Networks likes to say that one of its goals is to be “Sustainably Unique.” What does that mean?
Being “sustainably unique” means being different. And, preferably, being different in a way that creates value for our constituents: our employees, our customers, our owners, our partners and for the communities we serve.
Our company culture encourages employees to be receptive to new ideas and new ways of doing things in order for our business to grow and succeed.
Why is being “Sustainably Unique” an important part of the company make-up?
Customers are deluged with more and more marketing messages and more and more choices to meet any of their needs. This is certainly true in the telecommunications market. Relatively speaking, we are a small organization. We do not possess the resources to utilize mass marketing in the way that our large competitors do. As such, it is critical that we are recognized by all of our constituents as being unique. We have worked very hard to develop a Company culture that is our source of uniqueness. Competitors can replicate technology, systems and other investments, but a culture is very difficult to copy. Our culture starts with a belief that people want to be great and it is management’s job to create an environment where they can win. Employees are trusted to make decisions as if they owned the Company. Bureaucracies and road blocks are frowned upon. Rather than setting up strict rules to protect the Company, values are stressed to present employees with guidelines for intelligent decision making. The Company works to hire and retain team mates that can thrive in this environment. For our customers, this culture leads to an environment of speed, flexibility, responsiveness and quality.
What does that quality mean for customers?
Oxford’s employees can make decisions for our customers. For instance, technicians that are installing services for our customers can make changes on the fly as a customer decides they want something a little different at the last minute. Customers calling into our customer service groups talk with friendly, professional and happy employees that are able to be responsive to customer requests without having to fight through a bureaucracy to make decisions. Our employees work creatively with one another and the customer to design a unique solution to meet the needs of the customer. At a higher level, employees all feel comfortable and are expected to participate in continuously making improvements. As such, we are able to best harness the collective wisdom of our employees when it comes to things like our overall network reliability, design, redundancy and delivery process to ensure our customers receive the best possible quality.