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The Best Business Plan? Relationships

The Best Business Plan? Relationships

If Phoenix Christian Jade Meskill's success is any indication, collaboration and investing in employees isn't pie-in-the-sky idealism. It's just smart business.

A New Way

Meskill's journey toward "prioritizing human relationships," he says, took an even more dramatic turn when he co-founded a software development company with friend and colleague Derek Neighbors. While software development can conjure up images of a lone programmer working in a dark room writing code, Meskill says in truth, "it's a highly social endeavor." If people who use the software are ignored, no programming code is good enough to make the system work. Once again, Meskill was face to face with living out the values of human collaboration.

Inspired by Jesus (as well as agile software development methods), Meskill and his company, Integrum, began building around a different set of values, of collaboration, transparency, and honesty. They went so far as to make "love" a core value. Simply put, they were becoming experts at working together. They began teaching themselves and their clients how to move away from a top-down, control-oriented process and trust each other.

As Meskill became more convinced of the power of collaboration and human potential, he and his colleagues started looking at their "tribe": the greater software and design community. "We saw that in Phoenix we were very disconnected; we are so spread out," he says. "We were all trying to make a difference, but we weren't working together for the greater good."

A self-admitted risk taker, Meskill and his colleagues had some extra office space and knew a small graphic-design group that was losing its workspace. They decided to invite them in. The new tenants paid no rent. They were there to work alongside and, in Meskill's words, "see what happened."

Both companies benefited from sharing the space. They began meeting regularly to collaborate and discover possibilities they wouldn't have seen otherwise.

Then the circle widened. Others who were linked to the design firm would stop by and discover their shared office space. Meskill says, "Before we knew it, we had a bunch of people just showing up." They all were working on their respective business opportunities, but all the while sharing expertise and innovating.


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Displaying 2–4 of 4 comments

S Park

October 26, 2012  10:15am

My main critique is of the article, not Gangplank. Again if you read the introduction carefully, its focus is Meskill's management style and that it failed for some (unexplained) reason. Without much of an explicit connection, the article then leaps to Gangplank and its approach. The reader has to make that connection, which apparently is that Meskill prevented his people from collaborating in some way or other. But its not clear.


October 25, 2012  4:15pm

Rather than the point of this article being to identify all specifics about Gangplank and Jade, I think it's a great highlight of how a Christian is creating space for business people to collaborate on the work they do. S Park, why don't you check out Gangplank yourself to see their work in action!

S Park

October 25, 2012  11:28am

Aside from vague references to "collaboration", the article doesn't really answer the question as to why "they hated it and they hated me", or how he changed "his management approach line up with what he confessed on Sunday morning". And putting everyone in a big room with long tables is not the answer for every collaboration and productivity issue, and in fact can create other issues.


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