The acquisition of The Learning House by John Wiley and Sons (NYSE: JW.A) will close on Nov. 1st, 2018. It has been a wild ride, and it is far from over. The opportunity to reshape the learner experience continues to be one of my focus areas. However, I wanted to pause for a moment and reflect on this acquisition milestone.
You see, for a good portion of my career by way of things like DevOps or Digital Transformation I have had this goal of taking a business “to the next level.” It is such an overused phrase, but business leaders know it when they see it. If you have been on either side of an acquisition, you already know that one of the most scrutinized aspects is the target’s technology and technical capabilities. Leading this small but mighty TLH technology team, to build something worth acquiring, helped me check off this career milestone as we prepared the business for the next phase.
Every member of TLH deserves credit for this milestone, but I want to highlight a few strategies and extend my gratitude to the technology leadership team for making it happen.
I’ll start with the team. Technology is a team sport. It has been a three-year journey (that felt more like ten) to form, storm and norm our way to the team we have become. Our technology leaders wear multiple hats and service a roadmap of diverse projects. We defined and progressed a culture that solves complex problems and getting here took a special mix of decision making, communication, and trust.
We took a long-view. As a small business, acquisition was always a possibility. The temptation to favor speed over just about anything else is constant. My strategy was to establish a long-term roadmap and transformation strategy. Our planning required just enough focus on architecture to ensure incremental progress while meeting tactical objectives. We had our share of difficult projects, but linking company-level goals to developer cards via a roadmap kept us on the right path.
Being successful in technology means managing constraints. I focused our investment and technology organizational alignment into a few key areas. Organizationally, we needed to become bi-modal and play a more active role in articulating and managing investment constraints within the company. Adapting our delivery and support models to this realization was a critical transition. I placed bets on an analytics program, a cloud adoption plan, an iPaaS strategy, and a higher education centric-ERP implementation. I was diligent to spend my time nurturing the organizational design changes and strategic technology bets while fielding everything else that comes along with a fast-paced, agile business.
I’m so proud of the results. It was the first hard part of a series of hard parts, and we are ready. Even with limited exposure to the Wiley team, I can sense similar energy and optimism. The real excitement will come when we see what all this talent and capability will be able to do together.